Controversial tennis superstar Novak Djokovic had his Australian visa canceled for the second time on Friday. The government move means he is likely to be deported and miss the Australian Open championship, the first tennis grand slam fixture of the year.
The decision was taken by federal Immigration Minister Alex Hawke who used discretionary powers to overturn an earlier court ruling. Hawke argued that the Djokovic, who has chosen not to be vaccinated against COVID-19, may pose a danger to the public.
“Today I exercised my power under section 133C(3) of the Migration Act to cancel the visa held by Mr Novak Djokovic on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so,” said Hawke in a statement.
Djokovic, the men’s number one player and Australian Open title holder, arrived in Melbourne on Jan. 6, 2022, but was detained by border forces. Authorities later canceled his visa, arguing that Djokovic did not meet the entry requirements.
Djokovic was held for four nights in immigration detention pending his appeal to the courts.
Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly examined the case and documents presented by Djokovic’s lawyers. These included a medical exemption certificate issued by a professor and an exemption granted to him by an expert panel in Victoria state.
Later, however, it emerged that Djokovic had incorrectly filled out one of the forms on his visa application, misstated his travel history, and broken self-quarantine rules by giving an in-person interview to a French journalist on Dec. 18, 2021, shortly after Djokovic had tested positive for the disease.
The Australian government has been embarrassed by the Djokovic affair, but Hawke’s decision clearly suggests that it intends to stand its ground.
Djokovic may still appeal the minister’s decision. But it is not clear on what grounds he might succeed. If he is deported, Djokovic faces a possible three year ban on entry into Australia.
The tournament organizers on Thursday named Djokovic as the number one seed, or favorite. He is scheduled to play on the first day, Monday.
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