Tennis star Novak Djokovic faces deportation again after the Australian government revoked his visa for a second time. Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said Friday he used his ministerial discretion to revoke the 34-year-old Serb’s visa on public interest grounds three days before the Australian Open 2022 is to begin. (More Tennis News)
Djokovic’s lawyers are expected to appeal the cancelation in the Federal Circuit and Family Court as they successfully did after the first cancellation. It is the second time Djokovic’s visa has been canceled since he arrived in Melbourne last week to defend his Australian Open title.
“The Morrison Government is firmly 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.
His exemption from a COVID-19 vaccination requirement to compete was approved by the Victoria state government and Tennis Australia, the tournament organizer. That apparently allowed him to receive a visa to travel.
But the Australian Border Force rejected the exemption and canceled his visa upon arrival in Melbourne. He spent four nights in hotel detention before a judge on Monday overturned that decision.
Hawke's move also means Djokovic is likely to face a three-year ban on obtaining a new Australian visa. His visa was first cancelled on January 6 upon his arrival in Melbourne. He spent several nights at the detention hotel before winning a legal battle to stay in the country and seek a 21st Grand Slam.
However, on Friday Hawke cancelled the Serb's visa under separate powers in Australia's Migration Act. According to the act, Hawke can deport anyone who he deems a potential risk to 'the health, safety or good order of the Australian community'.
Djokovic's who tested positive for COVID-19 last month admitted meeting a journalist and having a photoshoot after his positive results. The nine-time Australian Open champion also clarified in a social media post that his agent make a mistake while filing the Australian Travel Declaration calling it a human error.
Melbourne-based immigration lawyer Kian Bone said Djokovic’s lawyers face an 'extremely difficult' task to get court orders over the weekend to allow their client to play next week.
“For Djokovic to get the outcomes he needs to play would be extremely difficult to obtain over the weekend,” Bone said. Hawke’s delay in reaching a decision bordered on punitive, Bone said.
“If you left it any later than he has done now, I think from a strategic standpoint he’s (Hawke’s) really hamstringing Djokovic’s legal team, in terms of what sort of options or remedies he could obtain,” Bone said hours before the decision was announced.
The lawyers would need to go before a duty 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 preventing his deportation, like the order he gained last week. The second would order Hawke to grant Djokovic a visa to play.
“That second order is almost not precedented,” 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 sent packing if he had broken Australia’s vaccine rules.
But hours before the visa cancelation was announced, she complained about how long Hawke was taking to reach a decision. “Why does this keep dripping out of the tap? Alex Hawke, where are you? Missing in action?” Lambie asked on Nine Network television.
“If you can’t make a decision on Novak Djokovic, goodness me, how are you guys running the country? This is an absolute shambles,” she added.
With AP inputs