Melbourne, Australia –
Novak Djokovic faces deportation again after the Australian government revoked his visa for the second time, the latest twist in the ongoing saga of whether the No.1-ranked tennis player was to be screened at the Australian Open despite being unconfirmed for COVID-19. will be allowed to compete in ,
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said on Friday he used his ministerial discretion to revoke the 34-year-old Serb’s visa on grounds of public interest – just three days before the start of play at the Australian Open, where Djokovic won his 20 grands. Has won a record nine of the Slam titles.
Djokovic’s lawyers were expected to appeal to the Federal Circuit and Family Court, based on a process they successfully followed last week after his visa was first revoked when he landed at Melbourne airport.
The hearing was to be held on Friday night.
Returning to the country from exile from Australia can result in a three-year ban, although this may be waived depending on the circumstances.
Hawke said he revoked the visa “on the grounds of health and good order, on the grounds that it was in the public interest to do so.” His statement said Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government is “strongly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, especially in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Morrison himself welcomed the pending deportation of Djokovic. The whole episode has touched a nerve in Australia, and particularly in the state of Victoria, where locals went through hundreds of days of lockdown during the worst of the pandemic and has a vaccination rate among adults of over 90%.
Australia is currently facing a huge surge in virus cases driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant. On Friday, the nation reported 130,000 new cases, including nearly 35,000 in the state of Victoria. Although many infected people are not getting as sick as they were in previous outbreaks, the increase is putting serious strain on the health system, with more than 4,400 people hospitalized. It is also causing disruption in workplaces and supply chains.
Morrison said, “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 are those Hoping to protect the outcome of the sacrifices.” a statement. “This is what ministers are doing today in taking this action.”
The Australian Open requires everyone, including players, their support teams and spectators, to be vaccinated against the disease caused by the coronavirus. Djokovic has not been vaccinated and sought medical exemption on the grounds that he had COVID-19 in December.
That exemption was approved by the Victoria State Government and Tennis Australia, apparently allowing her to obtain a visa to travel. But the Australian Border Force rejected the exemption and revoked his visa upon landing in Melbourne on 5 January.
Djokovic spent four nights at an immigration detention hotel before that decision was overturned on Monday. That decision allowed Djokovic to move freely around Australia and he has been practicing at Melbourne Park daily to prepare to play in the tournaments he has won in each of the past three years.
They originally had a practice session for the mid-afternoon Friday at Rod Laver Arena, the tournament’s main stadium, but it was pushed to morning and ended several hours before the Hawks’ decision was announced in the evening.
After Hawke’s visa was revoked, media began gathering outside the building where Djokovic was reportedly meeting with his lawyers.
A spokeswoman for the Australian Open said tournament organizers did not immediately comment on the latest development in Djokovic’s condition, which has affected all other story lines going into the year’s first Grand Slam event.
Tennis Australia announced that the nine players would hold a pre-tournament news conference on Saturday, and Djokovic’s name was not on the list.
With his legal position still in limbo, Djokovic was placed in the tournament bracket in Thursday’s draw, set to face Miomir Kekmanovic in an all-Serbian matchup in the first round.
According to Grand Slam rules, if Djokovic is forced to withdraw from the tournament before the order of play on day one is announced, No. 5 seed Rublev will move to Djokovic’s place in the bracket and face Kekmanovic.
If Djokovic withdraws from the tournament after Monday’s schedule is released, he is referred to as the “lucky loser” on the field – a player who loses in a qualifying tournament but is out of the main due to another player’s exit. Goes to the draw. The competition has started.
And if Djokovic plays in one match – or more – and is then told he can no longer participate in the tournament, his next opponent will simply move on to the next round and there will be no replacement.
Melbourne-based immigration lawyer Kien Bone said Djokovic’s lawyers face an “extremely difficult” task of getting a court order over the weekend to allow his client to play next week.
Hours before the announcement of Hawke’s decision, Bone said: “If you leave it to the aftermath, I think from a strategic standpoint, he’s really hamstringing Djokovic’s legal team, in this case. What kind of alternatives or remedies he can get.”
Djokovic’s lawyers would need to go to a duty judge of the Federal Circuit and Family Court or a higher judge of the Federal Court to obtain two urgent orders. An injunction would be an injunction stopping his deportation, as he won in court last week.
The second would force Hawke to give Djokovic a visa to play.
“That second order is almost never precedent,” Bone said. “Very rarely do courts order a visa to be granted to a member of the executive government.”
McGuirk reported from Canberra, Australia.