Australia cancels Novak Djokovic’s visa for a second time
The Australian government has cancelled Novak Djokovic’s visa again, just days before the start of the Australian Open tennis tournament, which the world’s top-ranked player has won nine times.
Alex Hawke, the immigration minister and close ally of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, said: “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.”
Hawke was expected to move to deport Djokovic who entered the country as an unvaccinated non-resident last week. The player had been granted a medical exemption to play in the grand slam event after contracting Covid-19 in December. But the Australian Border Force argued that he had not complied with the country’s strict policies.
After five days of deliberation, Hawke said on Friday: “The Morrison government is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
It is the second time that the Australian government has moved to deport the unvaccinated tennis player since he arrived in the country. On Monday, Djokovic won an appeal in the federal court against the decision by the country’s border force to cancel his visa on procedural grounds.
However, documents that the Serbian filed to win that appeal have drawn more scrutiny over his actions and the credibility of his vaccination exemption used to enter Australia.
Djokovic admitted on Wednesday that his agent had incorrectly filled out a travel declaration and that he had attended an interview and photo shoot in Serbia despite knowing that he had tested positive for Covid-19.
A poll conducted by News Corp of 61,000 people this week revealed that 84 per cent of respondents backed the tennis player’s deportation.
Following Djokovic’s successful appeal, the Australian government warned that Hawke could invoke his ministerial powers to cancel the visa again.
Djokovic, the defending Australian Open champion who is vying to become the most successful player in the history of the sport, is expected to appeal against the decision.
The controversy has stoked criticism of Morrison in an election year. His government is already battling to contain Covid-19 cases and ease supply chain problems caused by the pandemic that has led to empty shelves at supermarkets.