Novak Djokovic had his visa revoked and is facing deportation again over his COVID-19 vaccination status days before the start of the Australian Open despite the government ruling in his favor earlier in the week.
Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said on Friday that he used ministerial discretion on public interest grounds to cancel Djokovic’s visa.
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Djokovic’s team was expected to appeal in the Federal Circuit and Family Court, which it did successfully earlier in the week on procedural grounds when his visa was first canceled when he landed at Melbourne airport. Hawke said he made his judgment “carefully.”
“Today I exercised my power under section 133C(3) of the Migration Act to cancel the visa held by Mr. Novak Djokovic for reasons of health and good order, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so,” Hawke said in a statement. a declaration.
“The Morrison Government is strongly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison added: “They rightly expect the outcome of those sacrifices (that Australians have made) to be protected. The pandemic has been incredibly difficult for all Australians, but we have stood together and saved lives and Livelihoods”.
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“Our strong border protection policies have kept Australians safe, before COVID and now during the pandemic.”
Djokovic is not vaccinated against the coronavirus. All Australian Open participants and travelers entering the country must be vaccinated unless they receive a medical exemption.
The Victorian state government and Tennis Australian approved a medical waiver, allowing him to obtain a visa to travel. However, the Australian Border Force refused the medical exemption and canceled his visa when he landed in Melbourne on January 5.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion was confined to a Melbourne immigration hotel until a judge reversed the decision. He was then picked as the No. 1 seed for the tournament and was able to practice at Rod Laver Arena before the Open.
The saga has eclipsed the tournament.
“It’s not a good situation for anybody. I just want it to be resolved obviously. I think it would be good for everybody if that was the case. It seems like it’s been going on for quite some time, it’s not good for tennis, it’s not great for the Open. from Australia, it’s not great for Novak,” said British tennis star Andy Murray.
If Djokovic is forced to withdraw from the event before the order of play for Day 1 is announced, Grand Slam rules state that No. 5 seed Andrey Rublev of Russia would take his place to face Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia.
If Djokovic withdraws after the schedule is released, he will be replaced by a lucky loser. The so-called “lucky loser” is a player who loses in the qualifying tournament but gets into the main draw due to another player’s defection.
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The Australian Open starts on Monday.
Associated Press contributed to this report.