For the second time in a row, Australia has cancelled tennis star Novak Djokovic’s visa due to his refusal to be vaccinated. He might be deported and face a three-year immigration suspension as a result of the judgment based on “health and good order” concerns.
The judgment has been dubbed “patently irrational” by Djokovic’s attorneys, who have stated that they would appeal. The Australian Open, which begins on Monday, will feature the world number one in men’s tennis.
In a statement, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said, “Today I exercised my power… 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,”
The decision was made after “careful consideration.” according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
“Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected.” Mr Morrison said, referring to the harsh criticism his government has received for admitting the unvaccinated player into Australia.
The Australian government’s counsel indicated Djokovic would not be deported until his appeal had run its course at an extraordinary late-night court session shortly after the verdict was announced on Friday.
The government has also stated that he would be detained after meeting with immigration officials in Melbourne on Saturday morning.
The minister’s decision to revoke Djokovic’s visa was dubbed “patently irrational” by Djokovic’s legal team.
Djokovic’s lawyer, Nicholas Wood, stated it was canceled because “he will excite anti-vax sentiment” citing a government letter with further specifics on why it was revoked.
Mr Wood went on to say that the minister had decided to “remove a man of good standing” from Australia and “impair” Djokovic’s future career because of anti-vaccination remarks he made in 2020.
The nine-time Australian Open champion was expecting to defend his crown next week, making him the most successful male tennis player in history with a record 21 Grand Slam victories.
Djokovic is still in the Australian Open draw, and he will play fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round next week. If that’s the case, then If he is deported, Russian player Andrey Rublev will most likely take his place.
Djokovic’s visa was originally canceled on 6 January, shortly after he arrived in Melbourne, as Australian border Force officers said he “failed to provide appropriate evidence” for a vaccination exemption.
Because it was unknown if he could fulfill the country’s tight entrance criteria, his first declaration that he was going to play in the Open sparked a criticism from those Australians who had lived under long and strict Covid lockdowns. Last year, Melbourne was particularly badly hit by lockdowns, with the city spending 262 days under stringent restrictions.
When Djokovic initially arrived, he was delayed for hours at the airport’s immigration check and then spent days in an immigration hotel. His visa was reinstated by a judge a few days later, and he was released after a judge ruled that border authorities had broken protocol when he arrived. Mr Hawke, though, revoked Djokovic’s visa on Friday evening in Melbourne, citing unique authorities in Australia’s Migration Act.
The legislation gives him the authority to deport anybody who he believes poses a threat to “the health, safety or good order of the Australian community” although Djokovic may still appeal.
It comes after Djokovic addressed claims that his agent had submitted a false declaration on his trip paperwork by accident. After testing positive for Covid-19, Djokovic acknowledged to seeing a journalist and having a photograph.