Immigration Minister Alex Hawke Cancels Novak Djokovic’s Visa, Serb Begins Legal Challenge

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used his personal power to cancel Novak Djokovic’s visa, but the world number one’s lawyers are believed to be ready to file an immediate injunction against the decision.

Djokovic could be forced to leave the country in a matter of hours and faces a three-year ban. The move has jeopardized the tennis world No. 1’s quest for a 10th Australian Open alongside the tournament, after a draw was already made with him top-seeded.

Facing deportation, he will face an instructional hearing before Judge Tony Kelly in Federal Circuit Court on Friday night, beginning at 8:45 p.m.

Hawke issued a statement on Friday saying: “Today I exercised my power under section 133C(3) of the Migration Act to cancel Mr. Novak Djokovic’s visa for reasons of health and good order, on the basis that it was in the interest of public. to do it

“This decision followed orders from the Federal Circuit and Family Court on January 10, 2022, overturning a previous cancellation decision on grounds of procedural fairness.

“In making this decision, I have carefully considered the information provided to me by the Department of the Interior, the Australian Border Force and Mr. Djokovic.

“The Morrison Government is strongly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The personal powers granted to the Minister of Immigration to cancel visas are extensive. If Djokovic is unable to successfully appeal the decision, he faces a three-year ban from being granted another visa, although it can be waived.

The Serbian champion had been awaiting a decision for nearly a week on whether the Australian government would revoke his visa for a second time due to the dispute over his medical exemption from the country’s COVID-19 inoculation rules.

The unvaccinated Djokovic, who now knows that his first-round Grand Slam opponent, likely next Monday or Tuesday, will be fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, was reportedly determined to continue the fight should the verdict go against him. .

Djokovic has been training at the Rod Laver Arena where he has won all nine of his Australian Open crowns as if he was preparing as usual.

Novak Djokovic reacts to defeating Alexander Zverev in the US Open semifinal. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

However, the noise surrounding the 34-year-old’s possible reappearance was still deafening, and Djokovic’s cause was clearly not helped by his admission that an incorrect entry declaration had been made on his visa.

A box was ticked confirming that he had not traveled abroad in the two weeks prior to leaving for Australia, although he had actually been to Spain from Serbia.

He also acknowledged that he should not have done an interview and photo shoot for a French newspaper while infected with COVID-19 before Christmas.

An online poll by the News Corp media group showed 83% of those polled now backing the idea of ​​the government trying to deport Djokovic.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said most Australians disapproved of Djokovic’s stance, saying: “Most of us thought that because Mr. Djokovic hadn’t been vaccinated twice, he would be asked to leave; well, that was our opinion, but it was not the view of the court.

“The vast majority of Australians…didn’t like the idea that someone else, whether it’s a tennis player or…the King of Spain or the Queen of England, could come here and have a set of rules. different from what everyone has. something else has to deal with.”

Top players also continued to express their opinion, with Stefanos Tsitsipas, one of Djokovic’s biggest rivals for the title, stating on Thursday: “Without a doubt, he (Djokovic) has been playing by his own rules and has been doing what he hasn’t. many players had done. the guts to do.

“Especially after the ATP announced certain criteria for players to enter the country.”

The great Martina Navratilova of all time gave Djokovic some advice, saying that sometimes your personal beliefs have to be overcome by what is good for the common good, for those around you, for your teammates.

Urging him to “suck it up” and go home, she added: “Get vaccinated or just don’t go playing.”

(with APA)

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