MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – Tennis star Novak Djokovic is being deported again after the Australian government revoked his visa for the second time.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said on Friday he used his ministerial discretion to revoke the 34-year-old Serb’s visa for reasons of public interest, three days before the Australian Open starts.
Djokovic’s lawyers are expected to appeal the cancellation in the Federal Circuit and Family Court, as they successfully did after the initial cancellation.
Hawke said he canceled the visa for reasons of “health and good order, on the grounds that it was in the public interest to do so”.
“The Morrison government is committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hawke said in a statement, referring to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
It is the second time Djokovic’s visa has been canceled since he arrived in Melbourne last week to defend his Australian Open title.
His waiver of a COVID-19 vaccination requirement to participate was approved by the state of Victoria and Tennis Australia, the tournament organizer. This apparently enabled him to obtain a visa to travel.
But the Australian Border Force rejected the waiver and canceled his visa on arrival in Melbourne. Djokovic spent four nights in an immigration detention hotel before a judge overturned that decision Monday.
Melbourne-based immigration attorney Kian Bone said Djokovic’s lawyers face an “extremely difficult” task to get court orders this weekend so their client can play next week.
“It would be extremely difficult for Djokovic to get the results he needs to play at the weekend,” Bone said.
Hawke’s delay in making a decision bordered on punitive, Bone said.
“If you leave it later than he has now, I think from a strategic point of view he (Hawke’s) is really paralyzing Djokovic’s legal team, in terms of what kind of options or remedies he might be given,” Bone said hours before the meeting. decision was made. announced.
The attorneys would have to appear before an acting judge of the Federal Circuit and Family Court or a higher-ranking Federal Court judge to get two urgent injunctions.
A warrant would be an order to prevent his deportation, like the one he received last week. The second would order Hawke to grant Djokovic a visa to play.
“That second order is almost no precedent,” Bone said. “Very rarely do the courts order a member of the executive government to grant a visa.”
Jacqui Lambie, an influential independent senator, argued that Djokovic should be evicted if he violated Australian vaccine rules.
But hours before the visa cancellation was announced, she complained about how long it took Hawke to make a decision.
“Why does this keep dripping from the tap? Alex Hawke, where are you? Missing in action?” asked Lambie on Nine Network television.
“If you can’t make up your mind about Novak Djokovic, thank God, how do you run the country? This is an absolute mess,” she added.
McGuirk reported from Canberra, Australia.