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 deliberations over whether to deport the Serbian star from the country.

It is not clear whether Australia will decide to deport Djokovic, as the decision can still be challenged by his legal team.

“Today, I exercised my power under section 133C (3) of the Migration Law to cancel the visa held by Mr. Novak Djokovic for reasons of health and good order, on the grounds that ‘it was in the public interest to do so,’ the statement read. .

“In making this decision, I have carefully considered the information provided to me by the Home Office, the Australian Border Force and Mr. Djokovic. The Morrison government is firmly committed to protecting the borders of the Australia, in particular with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic. “

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

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

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

Despite Monday’s ruling, the immigration minister retained ministerial power to intervene personally in the case and ultimately had the final say as to whether Djokovic would be allowed to stay, although his decision is subject to appeal.

In his ruling, the judge noted that had Djokovic been deported he would have been banned from Australia for three years. However, this can be canceled under 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 reverse Djokovic’s visa-protected “sacrifices” had made the pandemic throughout.

In a statement, Morrison said “the pandemic has been incredibly difficult for every Australian, but we have stuck 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. “That is what the minister is doing by taking this step today.”

How did it come to this

Djokovic arrived in Melbourne on January 5 and quickly saw his visa canceled to enter the country without a valid reason why he could not be vaccinated against Covid-19.

He spent several nights in a detention hotel in Melbourne, which is also home to dozens of refugees, some of whom have been held in immigrant detention for more than eight years.

His lawyers challenged the ruling and won the legal battle on Monday, but since then questions have emerged about Djokovic’s behavior after he tested positive for Covid-19 on December 16.

In a statement posted to social media on Wednesday, Djokovic admitted he did not immediately isolate himself after receiving a positive diagnosis – but denied knowing he had the virus when he attended several public events.
Djokovic admits he did not immediately self-isolate after positive Covid test, as Australia probes possible test discrepancies

He also apologized for apparently false information on his visa declaration for Australia, in particular that he had not traveled in the 14 days prior to his arrival in the country. Photos taken during this period seem to show this in both Spain and Serbia.

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

In the statement, Djokovic also admitted to doing an interview and photoshoot with a French sports newspaper when Covid tested positive, which he admitted to be an “error in judgment”.

The dispute over visas and the decision whether or not to allow unvaccinated Djokovic – who has previously expressed his opposition to Covid-19 vaccines and vaccine warrants – in the country comes at a time when the number of Covid-19 cases skyrockets.

Victoria state – home to Melbourne where the Australian Open is held – on Friday reported 34,836 cases, with a record 976 people hospitalized with Covid-19. This week, the country passed one million cases across the pandemic.

Ahead of 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 fans are fighting to get him out of his hotel.  Inside, refugees wonder if they will ever leave

He also appeared to respond indirectly to Djokovic’s admission that he did not immediately isolate himself after testing positive for Covid-19 in December.

“If you know that 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 flagrant violation of the rules” if Djokovic was at a public event after knowing 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, explaining why he should reverse his decision.

Meanwhile, he could be returned to a migrant detention center, most likely to the Park Hotel in Melbourne, while his lawyers discuss their upcoming move.

Despite his visa being canceled again, experts say there is still a possibility that Djokovic will be released on another visa to play in the Australian Open.

“If there is an incredible outcry over the world’s number one tennis player being detained during the Australian Open, maybe the government will give in and let him out on a transitional visa,” said Abul Rizvi, former deputy secretary of the Ministry of Immigration. .

A bridging visa would allow him to work – or in his case to play – but the political implications of this move are unclear as it would appear to contradict the message that Djokovic poses a health risk to the Australian people.

Victorian-era Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said earlier on Friday that the problem had a simple solution: “Just get the shot.”

“This is the key… This is what I tell every Victorian. This is what I did. This is what my kids did,” he said, adding that the Australian Open was bigger than a player and the problem was way bigger than a person.

CNN Tennis contributor Ben Rothenberg and Hannah Ritchie, Angus Watson, Jessie Yeung and Ivana Kottasová of CNN contributed.

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