Tennis star Novak Djokovic faces deportation again after the Australian government revoked his visa for the second time.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawk said Friday he used his ministerial discretion to revoke the visa of the 34-year-old Serb on public interest grounds three days before the Australian Open kicks off.
In a statement, the minister said the decision was taken “for reasons of health and order, on the grounds that it is in the public interest.”
He added that the government was “strongly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic”.
With the current situation, the decision paves the way to prevent the men’s world number one – who has not been vaccinated against the Corona virus – from competing for the 10th Australian title and a record win in the Grand Slam next week.
However, Djokovic’s lawyers are expected to appeal the decision in the Federal Circuit and Family Court as they successfully did after the first cancellation. A car believed to be carrying the player was seen arriving at his lawyer’s office in Melbourne on Friday after the decision, according to the Associated Press.
Controversy over the player’s visa, vaccination status and treatment by Australian authorities completely overshadowed the tournament in the days leading up to the event.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has welcomed Djokovic’s pending deportation, linking it directly to the country’s experience with the pandemic.
“Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect to be protected as a result of those sacrifices,” Morrison said in a statement. “That’s what the minister is doing in taking that action today.”
For Djokovic, there is more at stake from this year’s championship: Deportations from Australia usually come with a three-year ban on returning to the country.
The movement follows the swing week
It is the second time that Djokovic’s visa has been revoked since he arrived in Melbourne last week to defend the Australian Open title.
His exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement for the competition has been approved by the state government of Victoria and Tennis Australia, the tournament organiser. Apparently this allowed him to get a visa to travel.
But the Australian Border Force refused the exemption and canceled his visa upon arrival in Melbourne. He spent four nights in hotel custody before a judge on Monday Overturn this decision.
The government’s decision to revoke his visa again comes more than a week after Djokovic first arrived in the country. Since the first visa cancellation was declared invalid by the court, The player was training in Melbourne for next week’s championship.
On Thursday, Djokovic was the defending champion Included in the lottery for the first round of the Australian Open as the top seed – although his participation was still in doubt with a government decision pending on whether the unvaccinated tennis star could stay in the country.
The controversy over the visa application and isolation
There has been speculation that the information Djokovic disclosed after the first court decision could tip the balance against him. In his statement, the Immigration Minister said he decided to cancel the visa after considering information provided by the government, the Australian Border Force and the player.
Earlier this week Djokovic admit mistakes Submitted in his visa application form in relation to his previous travels. The player also apologized for not being isolated after testing positive for COVID in December.
The dispute has been over whether his exemption from rules requiring vaccination to enter Australia, on the grounds that he had recently recovered from COVID-19, was valid.
Djokovic’s request said he had not traveled in the 14 days prior to his trip to Australia. However, the Monte Carlo-based athlete was seen in Spain and Serbia in that two-week period.
The player said it was submitted on his behalf by his support team and that his agent had apologized for “human error” and “unintentional”.
Reports also emerged that Djokovic attended events in his home country of Serbia last month after testing positive on December 16, including presenting prizes to children the following day, as well as giving an in-person interview to a French magazine.
Australian authorities criticized
Djokovic’s saga comes against the backdrop of the pandemic, as cases of the new coronavirus have risen again, putting more pressure on hospitals. Capacity at the Australian Open is restricted to 50%.
Many people feel strongly that allowing a high-profile character as vulnerable as Djokovic to play, while ordinary Australians – especially in Melbourne – subject to strict restrictions including travel, would be unfair and would be a shocking example.
However, many also criticized the player’s treatment by the authorities in general as a fiasco – tennis and state authorities granted him an exemption, border controls, then the government canceled his visa, reinstated it in court, and finally revoked the minister again.
“What a surprise! Morrison government revokes #Djokovic’s visa to win a weekend media session – showing us all how much chest hair he has,” chirp Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
The latest decision mocks the tournament’s draw, which was carried out only the day before – and sets Djokovic in a race against time to challenge him.
Melbourne immigration attorney Kian Boone said Djokovic’s lawyers face an “extremely difficult” task to obtain court orders over the weekend to allow their client to play next week.
“For Djokovic to get the results he needs it will be very difficult to get it over the weekend,” Boone said. Boone said Hook’s delay in reaching a decision came close to punishment.
“If I leave him any later than he’s doing now, I think from a strategic point of view he (Hawkeye) is really confusing Djokovic’s legal team, in terms of what kind of options or treatments he can have,” Boone said hours before the decision. announced.