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Former Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews has condemned plans to waive Novak Djokovic’s three-year visa ban to play the 2023 Australian Open saying it is a ‘slap in the face’ for Australians.

The former world number one went through a very public deportation from Australia at the start of 2022 due to his Covid vaccination status.

At the time, it was a requirement for all international travellers to be vaccinated, and although Djokovic initially received a medical exemption, he was denied entry eventually by an executive order given by the then government.

Djokovic would ordinarily be barred from the country until 2025 under the normal restrictions of the deportation order. However, rumours have been circulating that the new Australian government are open to overturn this for the Serbian to compete at next year’s Australian Grand Slam.

In July, Australia scrapped the rule that required all international travellers to declare their vaccination status. Djokovic has since said he is hoping for positive news that he can once again play the tournament, that he has won a record nine times.

However, Andrews has spoken out against it, saying special treatment should not be given to some just because of their status.

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“There would have been other people in similar circumstances, that have also had their visa’s cancelled,” said Andrews on ABC Radio.

“So if immigration now chooses to make a special allowance for Novak Djokovic the obvious question is what are they going to do about anyone else who may be in similar circumstances?

“[Why should] Novak Djokovic be allowed back into the country simply because he’s a high-ranking tennis player with many millions of dollars? Andrews added.

“It shouldn’t be just one rule (for him) and a different rule for everyone else.”

Andrews continued that lifting Djokovic’s ban would be “a slap in the face for those people in Australia who did the right thing (and) got vaccinated).”

It is unknown whether the Serbian’s visa ban will be waivered, however Australian Open tournament Director Craig Tiley sounded hopeful last week when he stated “We are on track to have all the top players back”.

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