Does Djokovic still have a chance to feature in Australian Open since his visa has been cancelled?

Defending men's champion Serbia's Novak Djokovic during a practice session in Melbourne on Thursday. — AP
Defending men's champion Serbia's Novak Djokovic during a practice session in Melbourne on Thursday. — AP

Melbourne - On Friday, the Australian government revoked his visa for a second time



By AP

Published: Fri 14 Jan 2022, 3:21 PM

Last updated: Fri 14 Jan 2022, 3:39 PM

Novak Djokovic, the nine-time and defending Australian Open champion, remains in limbo before the year’s first tennis major starts next Monday. The stakes are particularly high since he is seeking a men’s record 21st Grand Slam singles title.

On Friday, the Australian government revoked his visa for a second time.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said on 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 is to begin.

Djokovic’s lawyers are expected to appeal the cancellation in the Federal Circuit and Family Court as they successfully did after the first cancellation.

Hawke said he cancelled the visa on “health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so.”

“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.

It is the second time Djokovic’s visa has been cancelled since he arrived in Melbourne last week to defend his Australian Open title.

The unvaccinated star had won a legal battle on procedural grounds on Monday that allowed him to stay in the country, but he still faces the prospect of deportation because his exemption from Covid-19 vaccination rules has been questioned.

Deportation could result in sanctions ranging up to a three-year ban from entering Australia, a daunting prospect for a player who has won almost half of his 20 Grand Slam singles titles here.

Australia-based lawyer Greg Barns, who is experienced in visa cases, said the immigration minister had the “personal power” to cancel the visa without having to give written notice or a reasonable time for Novak Djokovic to respond.

Since Djokovic’s visa has been cancelled, his lawyers could go back to court to apply for an injunction that would prevent him from being forced to leave the country.

Sydney-based immigration lawyer Simon Jeans said there’s “a lot of fudges” in the law and the immigration department would be taking its time to make sure any visa cancellation was “appeal-proof.”

“It’s not an easy task because if they cancel his visa and then Djokovic wins (an appeal) and he misses the opportunity to compete, he could make a claim against the department for the prize money and all his legal fees,” Jeans said.


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