MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic faces deportation once more after the Australian authorities revoked his visa for a second time, the newest twist within the ongoing saga over whether or not the No. 1-ranked tennis participant can be allowed to compete within the Australian Open regardless of being unvaccinated for COVID-19.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke stated Friday he used his ministerial discretion to cancel the 34-year-old Serb’s visa on public curiosity grounds — simply three days earlier than play begins on the Australian Open, the place Djokovic has received a file 9 of his 20 Grand Slam titles.
Djokovic’s legal professionals have been anticipated to attraction on the Federal Circuit and Family Court, which they already efficiently did final week on procedural grounds after his visa was first canceled when he landed at a Melbourne airport.
Deportation from Australia often results in a three-year ban on returning to the nation. That would make Djokovic 37 the subsequent time he could be allowed to compete on the Australian Open.
Hawke stated he canceled the visa on “health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so.” His assertion added that Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s authorities “is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Morrison welcomed Djokovic’s pending deportation, saying Australia had achieved one of many lowest pandemic dying charges, strongest economies and highest vaccination charges on the planet.
“This pandemic has been incredibly difficult for every Australian but we have stuck together and saved lives and livelihoods. … Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected,” Morrison stated in an announcement. “This is what the Minister is doing in taking this action today.”
Everyone on the Australian Open — together with gamers, their assist groups and spectators — is required to be vaccinated for the sickness attributable to the coronavirus. Djokovic will not be inoculated and had sought a medical exemption on the grounds that he had COVID-19 in December.
That exemption was permitted by the Victoria state authorities and Tennis Australia, apparently permitting him to acquire a visa to travel. But the Australian Border Force rejected the exemption and canceled his visa when he landed in Melbourne on Jan. 5.
Djokovic spent 4 nights in an immigration detention lodge earlier than a decide on Monday overturned that call. That ruling allowed Djokovic to move freely round Australia and he has been training at Melbourne Park to arrange to play in a event he has received every of the previous three years.
Djokovic has held follow classes every single day since he was launched from detention, posting a photograph on social media late Monday of himself along with his group on Rod Laver Arena.
He had a scheduled mid-afternoon follow booked for Friday on the event’s foremost present court docket, however switched his occasions to begin and end early.
Media began gathering on the vehicular entry to the constructing the place Djokovic was reported to be assembly along with his legal professionals after the minister’s choice was handed down.
With his authorized scenario nonetheless in limbo, Djokovic was positioned within the event bracket in Thursday’s draw, slated to face Miomir Kecmanovic in an all-Serbian matchup within the first spherical.
Melbourne-based immigration lawyer Kian Bone stated Djokovic’s legal professionals face an “extremely difficult” process to get court docket orders over the weekend to permit their shopper to play subsequent week.
Speaking hours earlier than Hawke’s choice was introduced, Bone stated: “If you left it any later than he has done now, I think from a strategic standpoint, he’s really hamstringing Djokovic’s legal team, in terms of what sort of options or remedies he could obtain.”
Djokovic’s legal professionals would want to go earlier than an obligation decide of the Federal Circuit and Family Court, or the next decide of the Federal Court, to get two pressing orders. One order could be an injunction stopping his deportation, resembling what he received in court docket final week. The second would power Hawke to grant Djokovic a visa to play.
“That second order is almost not precedented,” Bone stated. “Very rarely do the courts order a member of the executive government to grant a visa.”
Jacqui Lambie, an influential unbiased senator, argued that Djokovic must be despatched packing if he had damaged Australia’s vaccine rules. But hours earlier than the visa cancellation was introduced, she complained about how lengthy Hawke was taking to reach a choice.
“Why does this keep dripping out of the tap? Alex Hawke, where are you? Missing in action?” Lambie requested.
“If you can’t make a decision on Novak Djokovic, goodness me, how are you guys running the country? This is an absolute shambles,” she added.
McGuirk reported from Canberra, Australia.