Novak Djokovic has Australian visa revoked again, putting him at risk of deportation

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announced the decision in a statement on Friday, after days of deliberation over whether to expel the Serbian star from the country.

It is unclear if Australia will move to deport Djokovic, as his legal team may still challenge the decision.

“Today I exercised my power under section 133C(3) of the Migration Act to cancel Mr. Novak Djokovic’s visa for reasons of health and good order, on the basis that doing so was in the public interest,” the statement said. . .

“In making this decision, I have carefully considered information provided to me by the Department of the Interior, the Australian Border Force and Mr. Djokovic. The Morrison Government is strongly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic”.

The decision comes four days after a judge ruled that Australian Border Force (ABF) officers had been “unreasonable” when they canceled his initial visa to enter Australia upon his arrival in the country on 5 from January. The judge ordered that Djokovic be released from immigration detention. within 30 minutes.
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The second cancellation is the latest twist in a saga that has grabbed global headlines and put Australia’s immigration and Covid policies under scrutiny.

Under current Australian law, all international arrivals must be vaccinated against Covid-19, which Djokovic is not, unless they have a medical exemption.

Djokovic said he was under the impression he could get in because two independent panels associated with Tennis Australia and the Victorian state government had granted him an exemption on the grounds that he had been infected with Covid-19 in December. The federal government argued that under its rules, previous infection with Covid-19 is not a valid reason for an exemption.

Despite Monday’s ruling, the Immigration Minister retained the ministerial power to personally intervene in the case and ultimately had the last word. as to whether Djokovic would be allowed to stay, although his decision can be appealed.

In his ruling, the judge noted that if Djokovic had been deported, he would have been banned from entering Australia for three years. However, this may be waived in special circumstances.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used his executive powers to cancel Djokovic's visa.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the minister’s decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa protected the “sacrifices” Australia had made during the pandemic.

In a statement, Morrison said “the pandemic has been incredibly difficult for all Australians, but we have stood together and saved lives and livelihoods.”

“Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the outcome of those sacrifices to be protected,” he said. “This is what the minister is doing by taking this action today.”

how do i get to this

Djokovic arrived in Melbourne on January 5 and immediately had his visa canceled for entering the country without a valid reason that he could not be vaccinated against Covid-19.

He spent several nights in a detention hotel in Melbourne, which also houses dozens of refugees, some of whom have been detained by immigration for more than eight years.

His lawyers contested the decision and won the legal battle on Monday, but questions have since been raised about Djokovic’s behavior after testing positive for Covid-19 on December 16.

In a statement posted on social media Wednesday, Djokovic acknowledged that he did not immediately self-isolate after receiving a positive diagnosis, but denied knowing he had the virus when he attended various public events.
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He also apologized for apparently false information on his Australian visa declaration, specifically that he had not traveled in the 14 days before he arrived in the country. Photos taken during that period seem to show him in both Spain and Serbia.

Djokovic said a member of his support staff submitted the information and that the omission was “human error.”

In the statement, Djokovic also admitted doing an interview and photo shoot with a French sports newspaper while covid-positive, which he admitted was an “error of judgement.”

The visa dispute and decision to allow unvaccinated Djokovic, who has previously voiced opposition to Covid-19 vaccines and vaccine mandates, to enter the country comes at a time when Covid-19 case numbers are rising. increasing.

On Friday, the state of Victoria, home to Melbourne, where the Australian Open is taking place, reported 34,836 cases, with a record 976 people hospitalized with covid-19. This week the country exceeded one million cases in the entire pandemic.

Before the decision, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said he was “proud” to help the tennis star during the visa dispute, but acknowledged that it was “necessary for people to be vaccinated”.

Novak Djokovic's fans are fighting to get him out of his hotel.  Inside, the refugees wonder if they'll ever leave

It also seemed to indirectly address Djokovic’s admission that he did not immediately self-isolate after testing positive for Covid-19 in December.

“If you know you are infected, you should not go out in public,” Vučić said in an interview with the public broadcaster Radio Television of Serbia (RTS).

Meanwhile, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić told the BBC it would be “a clear violation of the rules” if Djokovic was at a public event after learning he had tested positive.

What could come next?

Maria Jockel, legal director of BDO Migration Services, said Djokovic’s lawyers will have 28 days to make representations to the minister, indicating why he should reverse his decision.

During that time, he could be sent back to immigration detention, most likely to the Park Hotel in Melbourne, while his lawyers discuss their next move.

Although his visa was canceled once again, experts say it is still possible that Djokovic could be released on another visa to play the Australian Open.

“If there is an unbelievable outcry over having the number one tennis players in the world detained while the Australian Open is going on, maybe the government will give in and let him out on a bridging visa,” said Abul Rizvi, a former deputy secretary of the Australian Open. immigration department. .

A bridging visa would allow him to work, or in his case play, but the political repercussions of that decision are unclear as it would seem to contradict the message that Djokovic poses a health risk to the Australian people.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on Friday there was a simple solution to the problem: “Just get vaccinated.”

“That’s the key… That’s what I tell all Victorians. That’s what I’ve done. That’s what my kids have done,” he said, adding that the Australian Open was bigger than a player and that the problem was much bigger than one person.

CNN tennis contributor Ben Rothenberg and CNN’s Hannah Ritchie, Angus Watson, Jessie Yeung and Ivana Kottasová contributed.

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