Australia on Friday revoked Novak Djokovic’s visa for the second time due to a lack of vaccinations for world number one tennis player.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s decision was taken on “health and order” grounds and means he could be deported.
However, the 34-year-old Serb may still file another legal recourse to stay in Australia.
The men’s tennis number one was scheduled to debut at the Australian Open, which starts on Monday of next week.
“Today I exercised my power to cancel the visa of Mr. Novak Djokovic on grounds of public interest for health and order reasons,” the minister said in a statement.
The change also means that Djokovic could be banned from obtaining an Australian visa for the next three years – although it is not final.
The defending Australian Open champions – a tournament they have won on nine occasions – were looking forward to defending their title next week. If he won that year, he would become the most successful male tennis player in history with a record 21 Grand Slam titles (Australia Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and US Open).
For now, Djokovic is scheduled to play at the Australian Open, according to organisers, and is set to face fellow Serbian Miomir Kekmanovic early next week.
However, if he is relegated, his seat is likely to go to Russian player Andrey Rublev.
Djokovic’s visa was revoked shortly after arriving in Melbourne on 6 January, with Australian immigration officials saying he had “failed to provide sufficient evidence” to obtain a vaccine exemption.
Public opinion also reacted against Djokovic, as many Australians faced strict quarantine. Many were outraged by the visa granted to an uneducated athlete.
Djokovic was detained for hours at immigration control at Melbourne airport and then spent days at an immigration hotel. Subsequently, his visa was reinstated by a judge, who ordered his release, ruling that border officials had ignored due process.
But on Friday night in Melbourne, Hawke used Australia’s Migration Act ministerial powers to revoke Djokovic’s visa.
The law allows him to deport anyone he considers to be a potential risk to “the health, safety or good order of the Australian community”.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the decision was made after “careful consideration”.
“The Australian people have made many sacrifices during this pandemic and it is hoped that the outcome of those sacrifices will be protected. This is what ministers are doing in taking this action today,” he said in a statement.
This comes after Djokovic claimed that his agent had made a false statement on his travel form. Djokovic also said that he met a journalist after testing positive for Covid-19.
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