Three days before the start of the Australian Open, Immigration Secretary Alex Hawke revoked the tennis star’s visa on grounds of public interest
The country’s Immigration Secretary, Alex Hawke, used his ministerial discretion to revoke the 34-year-old’s visa on Friday, three days before the start of the Australian Open, on grounds of public interest.
Novak Djokovic faces deportation and a possible three-year ban from Australia after the government canceled his visa for a second time.
Mr Hawke said: “Today I exercised my authority under Section 133C(3) of the Migration Act to annul Mr Novak Djokovic’s visa on grounds of health and good order, as it was in the public interest to do so.
“This decision follows orders from the Federal Circuit and Family Court dated January 10, 2022, overturning a previous annulment decision on procedural fairness grounds.
“In making this decision I have carefully considered the information provided to me by the Home Office, the Australian Border Force and Mr Djokovic.
“Morrison’s government is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: “Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic and have a right to expect the outcome of those sacrifices to be protected. That is what the Minister is doing by taking these measures today.”
Deportation orders can be linked to a three-year entry ban. The move would ban Djokovic from the Australian Open until 2026, by which time he would be 38.
However, the tennis star’s lawyers are expected to appeal the latest decision in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, as they successfully did after the initial refusal.
The world no. 1 could seek a stay of deportation until after the Australian Open, with a judicial review of the minister’s decision unlikely to be possible before the start of the tournament on Monday.
This is the second time Djokovic’s visa has been canceled since he arrived in Melbourne to defend his title last week.
The Serbian star has not received any vaccination against Covid-19 but has been waived by the Victoria state government and Tennis Australia, organizers of the tournament, after proving he had tested positive in the past six months.
But the Australian Border Force refused the exception and canceled his visa on arrival. He spent four nights in hotel detention before a judge overturned that decision on Monday.
By Kevin Garside Iis chief sports correspondent
Whether or not he wins his appeal, one has to wonder if Novak Djokovic’s reputation won’t be mortally hurt by this unfortunate episode. His rejection of vaccines in a pandemic that has already claimed 5.5 million lives, his attachment to health gurus — and their weird anti-scientific claims — undermine him in ways that court victories, no matter how epic, may not mend.
The proliferation of Australian newscasters on Twitter discussing his character from the air and questioning the veracity of his story suggests that hostility towards him is widespread. He emerges as a self-absorbed ego-monster, a cultist bent on winning at all costs, crammed with the passionate pursuit of that all-important 21st Grand Slam title.
A 10th win in Australia would set him apart from tennis heaven darlings Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer, who share the distinction of having won 20 Grand Slam tournaments. Djokovic has spent a career struggling with a lack of affection for Rafa and Roger amid a tennis crowd smitten by their charisma, sincerity and charm.
Slowed down by the clock, plagued by injuries, Nadal and Federer no longer have the strength to make it to the tournament final like Djokovic. Thanks to a physical economy better able to withstand the athletic forces coursing through his body despite his 34 years, it makes party time in the mind of Djokovic and his supporters, a chance to pluck a star from the sky and him to have named after him.
Read Kevin’s full analysis here