The Australian government revoked Novak Djokovic’s visa for the second time on Friday, saying the World Tennis Championships no. 1, who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19, may pose a risk to the community.
The decision raises the possibility of a second court battle by the Serbian tennis star to allow him to stay and bid for a record 21st tennis tournament at the Australian Open, but time is running out as the tournament begins on Monday.
Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke exercised his discretion to revoke Djokovic’s visa after an earlier annulment court overturned and released him from immigration detention on Monday.
“Today I have exercised my power under Section 133c(3) of the Immigration Act to cancel the visa held by Mr. Novak Djokovic on grounds of health and order, on the grounds that it is in the public interest to do so,” Hook said. a permit.
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Hawke said the government was “strongly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic”.
He said he had “carefully studied” information from Djokovic, the Home Office and the Australian Border Force.
Under the section of immigration law used by the Minister to exercise his power to cancel the visa, Djokovic will not be able to secure a visa to come to Australia for a period of three years, except in force majeure circumstances affecting Australia’s interest.
Djokovic, the Australian Open champion, was included in Thursday’s draw as the top seed and was due to face fellow Serbian Miomir Kekmanovic in his opening match, likely on Monday or Tuesday.
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This saga intensified the global debate over vaccine selection rights, raised questions about Australia’s failed handling of Djokovic’s visa and became a difficult issue for Prime Minister Scott Morrison during his re-election campaign.
The tennis star, who is skeptical about the vaccine, sparked widespread outrage in Australia when he announced last week that he was heading to Melbourne for the Australian Open with a medical exemption from requirements to vaccinate visitors against COVID-19.
Australia has experienced some of the longest lockdowns in the world, has a 90% vaccination rate among adults, and has seen a rapid Omicron outbreak bringing in nearly a million cases in the past two weeks.
Upon his arrival, Australian Border Force officials determined his exemption was invalid and he was held with asylum seekers in an immigration detention hotel for several days.
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A court on Monday allowed him to stay on the grounds that officials were “unreasonable” in the way they handled his interview in a seven-hour process in the middle of the night.
Djokovic’s case was not helped by an error in his entry permit related to overseas travel in the past two weeks, which he attributed to his agent. He also admitted that he should have rescheduled an interview and a photo shoot for a French newspaper on December 18 while he contracted COVID-19.
An online poll by News Corp Media group shows that 83% support the government’s attempt to deport the tennis star.
“Sure, he should go. He hasn’t done the right thing and is being rude about it,” said Venus Virgin Tomars, 45, who lives in Melbourne.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul and Ian Ransom in Melbourne; written by Lincoln Fest and Richard Boleyn)