Novak Djokovic will be detained again in Australia from tomorrow morning after his lawyers appealed a decision by the country’s immigration minister to cancel his visa for a second time.
The tennis star first had his visa revoked on arrival in Melbourne last week when his COVID vaccination exemption was questioned.
But he won a court appeal against the cancellation that allowed him to remain in the country.
At the time, the Australian government said it would continue to look at whether he could stay, which was a decision that was entirely at the discretion of immigration minister Alex Hawke.
He announced on Friday that the Serbian’s visa had been cancelled again, this time on public health grounds.
At a court hearing, Djokovic’s lawyers asked for an injunction to block his removal from the country, saying the reasons behind Mr Hawke’s decision are “patently irrational”.
Djokovic will be free for Friday night but will be detained at 8am on Saturday morning after being interviewed at the Department for Home Affairs.
The 34-year-old will then be able to spend time with his lawyers to prepare for his case but will be taken back into detention on Saturday night.
His legal team are pushing for a hearing to take place on Sunday, in the hope of a decision being made ahead of the Australian Open.
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Mr Hawke said he made his judgement after “carefully” considering information from the Department of Home Affairs, the Australian Border Force and from Djokovic.
“Today I exercised my power under section 133C(3) of the Migration Act to cancel the visa held by Mr Novak Djokovic on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so,” he said in a statement.
“The Morrison government is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added, referring to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
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Under the section of the Migration Act used by the minister, Djokovic will not be able to secure a visa to come to Australia for three years, except in compelling circumstances that affect the country’s interest.
Commenting on the decision, Mr Morrison said Australians have made “many sacrifices” during the pandemic.
“They rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected,” he added. “The pandemic has been incredibly difficult for every Australian, but we have stuck together and saved lives and livelihoods.
“Our strong border protection policies have kept Australians safe, prior to COVID and now during the pandemic.”
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What about the Australian Open?
The second cancellation of Djokovic’s visa comes after he was drawn against fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic in the Australian Open, which is due to begin on Monday.
The men’s tennis world number one could still file a legal challenge, but if not, his hopes of winning a 10th title at Melbourne Park and 21st grand slam crown will come to an end.
In order to stand a chance at competing, his lawyers would need to go before a judge of the Federal Circuit and Family Court or a higher judge of the Federal Court to get two urgent orders.
One order would be an injunction to prevent his deportation, like the one he gained last week.
The second would order Mr Hawke to grant Djokovic a visa to play.
If he is forced out of the tournament ahead of Monday’s order of play being announced, the seeds will be shuffled around, with fifth seed Andrey Rublev taking the tennis star’s place.
‘Not great for the Australian Open – not great for Novak’
British tennis player Andy Murray described the fallout as “not a good situation”.
He added that it was “not great for the tennis, not great for the Australian Open, not great for Novak and obviously a lot of people have criticised the government here as well, so it’s not been good.
“I’m not going to sit here and start kicking Novak whilst he’s down, I said it the other day, it’s not a good situation for anyone,” he said.
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