Novak Djokovic Facing Deportation From Australia Again After Visa Is Revoked
Novak Djokovic now faces deportation—again—after the Australian government revoked his visa, as the plot thickens on the saga of the top-ranked men’s tennis player and his COVID-19 vaccination status.
Djokovic is looking to compete in the Australian Open, which begins in three days and at which he has won nine of his 20 Grand Slam titles. However, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said he used his ministerial discretion to cancel the 34-year-old’s visa on “health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so.”
His statement added that Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government “is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
His lawyers are expected to appeal at the Federal Circuit and Family Court, which they successfully did last week after his visa was first canceled after he landed in Melbourne.
Deportation from Australia can lead to a three-year ban, which would make Djokovic 37 the next time he’s allowed to compete there.
“This pandemic has been incredibly difficult for every Australian but we have stuck together and saved lives and livelihoods,” Morrison said in a statement. “Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected. This is what the Minister is doing in taking this action today.”
Everyone at the Australian Open is required to be vaccinated for the illness caused by the coronavirus. Djokovic is not and had sought a medical exemption on the grounds that he had it in December. The exemption was approved by the Victoria state government and Tennis Australia, but the Australian Border Force rejected the exemption and canceled his visa on January 5.
Djokovic spent four nights in an immigration detention hotel before a judge overturned that decision, which allowed him to travel the country. He’s been practicing at Melbourne Park and had a mid-afternoon practice booked for Friday afternoon but changed it to earlier in the day.
Melbourne immigration lawyer Kian Bone said, “If you left it any later than he has done now, I think from a strategic standpoint, he’s really hamstringing Djokovic’s legal team, in terms of what sort of options or remedies he could obtain.”
Djokovic’s lawyers would need to get two urgent orders—one an injunction preventing his deportation, and the other to force Hawke to grant Djokovic a visa to play.
“That second order is almost not precedented,” Bone said. “Very rarely do the courts order a member of the executive government to grant a visa.”