Djokovic was deported on the eve of this year’s Open last month after the Federal Court upheld Mr Hawke’s decision to cancel his visa for a second time because the Serb wasn’t vaccinated.
In the video above, has Novak Djokovic finally got his COVID-19 jab?
He and Tennis Australia believed the world No.1 was eligible for a medical exemption to enter the country and compete because he had been infected with COVID-19 in December.
But despite winning his Federal Circuit Court case for initially having his visa cancelled, Djokovic was booted out upon Hawke’s personal intervention on the grounds that the tennis superstar’s perceived position could incite anti-vaccination protests.
Fast forward a few weeks, and Djokovic has revealed his plans to play on Rod Laver Arena in a new interview with Serbian TV.
“I want to come back to Australia in the future and to play on Rod Laver Arena again,” Djokovic told RTS.
“A lot of professional and personal beautiful things happened to me there. Despite all this, I have a great connection with Australia.”
The Serb finally showed some level of remorse for his controversial behaviour in the months leading up to the Australian Open, which included attending a newspaper interview after being advised of his positive PCR test.
“I admit that it was selfish what I’ve done by attending the interview with L’Equipe,” he said.
“My mistake, which I own. I understand that not all people will forgive me and I understand the critics.”
The 34-year-old said he had no regrets over the Instagram post he shared that sparked furore in Australia on the eve of his arrival into the country.
“I value honesty, it is something I’ve grown up with. I was aware that my name was mentioned in the media in the two to three months prior to AO. I wanted to be transparent.
“I don’t regret it. I don’t know if things would have been different if I hadn’t posted that.”
He said he valued the support he received from many on the pro tennis tour, including Australian Nick Kyrgios, with whom he has a complicated relationship.
“Kyrgios surprised me pleasantly, I thanked him and all the others who stood up for me, Alize Cornet for instance,” he said.
“I received a lot of messages privately from some of the players, but they didn’t want to speak publicly.
“I understand it, the situation was complicated.”
But the 34-year-old’s expulsion carries a three-year ban from re-entering Australia.
Under Australian law, anyone expelled from the country for three years following an adverse decision under section 133C(3), can apply for a waiver under “compelling” or “compassionate” circumstances.
When asked if the 20-time grand slam champion would be allowed back into Australia, Mr Hawke on Wednesday said: “The future for Mr Djokovic is his to decide on how he conducts himself and what he does internationally.
“The Australian government has no further role in what he chooses to do.”
Asked if the three-year ban would be waived, Mr Hawke said: “It means that a future decision-maker makes that (call) when receiving an application.
“It’s an important principle of law that I don’t bind a future decision-maker.
“We have indicated we would consider that, in the same way we would consider any others. We are very open to the consideration.”
Unless there is a dramatic change in requirements, Djokovic would still need to be vaccinated to contest the 2023 Australian Open.
And while he said he was open to being vaccinated, he was unequivocal in his stance during his first interview since the summer-long saga cruelled his chances of winning a 10th Australian Open last month.
Asked by the BBC if he was prepared to skip his French Open and Wimbledon title defences this year rather than being forced to get vaccinated, Djokovic said: “Yes. That is the price I am willing to pay.”
However, Italian Sports Minister Valentina Vezzali says Djokovic would be allowed to participate in the Italian Open as outdoor events don’t require a person to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“It is an outdoor sport and the tighter green pass is not required,” Ms Vezzali told Italian newspaper Libero on Thursday.
“So if Djokovic wants to come to Italy to play, he will be able to do so. Maybe without visiting hotels and restaurants.”
Earlier this month, Italy’s government lifted an obligation to wear masks outdoors under most circumstances in response to an improving coronavirus situation.
The Italian Open will take place in Rome from May 2-15, with the new Australian Open champion Rafa Nadal having beaten Djokovic in last year’s final.
Meanwhile, Djokovic has received a warm welcome in Dubai as he prepares to make his eagerly anticipated return to the tennis court following all the global drama surrounding his decision to remain unvaccinated.
He posed for selfies with adoring fans and set off on a guided tour of Serbia’s national pavilion at Expo 2020 on Thursday, days before he’s due to hit the courts.
The pavilion was hosting an event for his foundation, the Novak Djokovic Foundation, which promotes early childhood education in Serbia.
As he ambled into the pavilion surrounded by a sea of journalists, fans clapped and chanted “Nole”, his nickname.
“I’m proud to be on this stage,” Djokovic said after his wife, Jelena, gave a presentation about the foundation’s work with children.
He said it was often hard to be involved as much as he wanted to be with the foundation given his whirlwind tournament schedule, but admitted with a smile and to much applause: “It’s not as busy as it used to be!”
Meanwhile, one of Djokovic’s sponsors, car manufacturers Peugeot, said it expected its logo to still be on his shirt when he competed in Dubai.
“We anticipate the Peugeot brand will be represented at the tournament in Dubai on Mr Djokovic’s shirt,” a source close to Peugeot told Reuters.
– With AAP
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In the video below, Health Minister Greg Hunt reacts to news Novak Djokovic may be vaccinated against COVID-19