Sunday, January 16, 2022

Will Novak Djokovic ever play at the Australian Open again? Bad situation for tennis No. 1 with deportation

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Djokovic cannot obtain a new Australian visa for three years except in critical circumstances affecting Australia’s interests

The Australian Open has fallen into disarray again after tennis legend Novak Djokovic’s visa was canceled for the second time by the Australian government. The top seed is now set to be deported after officials insisted his unvaccinated health could pose a risk to the community, ending his dreams of fighting for his 21st Grand Slam.

The latest move means Djokovic, 34, will be barred from obtaining a new Australian visa for three years, except in critical circumstances affecting Australia’s interests. Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government’s decision to revoke his visa again because of Covid-19 regulations could see the Serbian tennis star face another court battle so he can play at the Opens, which begin on Monday 17 January should.

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Speaking to Reuters, a source close to Djokovic’s team confirmed that he is considering his options. A video showed a car believed to be carrying the player arriving at his lawyer’s offices. The Australian Open champions were part of the tournament’s draw and were expected to face fellow Serbian player Miomir Kecmanovic in their opening match on January 17 or 18, the Daily Mail reported.

Djokovic is in the midst of a heightened global human rights debate when it comes to vaccine administration. The saga has also sparked backlash over Australia’s handling of the player’s visa and could prove a difficult proposition considering Prime Minister Morrison is fighting for re-election. He announced on Friday January 14 that his government had revoked Djokovic’s visa to protect Australians from the Covid-19 pandemic. “Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic and they have a right to expect the outcome of those sacrifices to be protected,” he said in a statement.

Djokovic’s visa has been canceled for a second time after Immigration Secretary Alex Hawke used his discretionary powers to overrule a court order that overturned a previous revocation and released him from immigration detention. “Today I exercised my authority under Section 133C(3) of the Migration Act to annul Novak Djokovic’s visa on grounds of health and good order, as it was in the public interest to do so,” Hawke said in a statement. “This decision follows orders from the Federal Circuit and Family Court dated January 10, 2022, overturning a previous annulment decision on grounds of procedural fairness. In making this decision I have carefully considered information provided to me by the Department of Home Affairs, the Australian Border Force and Djokovic.” He added: “The Morrison Government is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders , especially in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The decision came just three days before the Australian Open was scheduled to start and will likely result in another round of judgment from Djokovic – who has already won the tournament nine times. However, legal experts believe it would be quite difficult, if not impossible, for the Serb to successfully challenge a personally made decision by the immigration minister. Djokovic could therefore be held in custody in Melbourne while the tournament goes on without the world no. Meanwhile, an international backlash from the German government to its decision to ban the star, particularly from his home country of Serbia, is expected.

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