Australia cancels Novak Djokovic’s visa for the second time

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates winning against Croatia’s Marin Cilic in the Davis Cup Semi-Final Round 2 match at Madrid Arena on December 3, 2021.

Sanjin Strukic Pixsell | MB Media | Getty Images

Tennis star Novak Djokovic has again had his visa canceled ahead of the Australian Open as furor over his Covid-19 vaccination status intensifies.

It comes after Djokovic won a legal battle on Monday to stay in the country after his visa was initially revoked. The 34-year-old Serbian national was detained at an immigration center last week after arriving in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open for what officials said breached the country’s strict entry rules which require that visitors are vaccinated against Covid.

Monday’s court ruling meant Djokovic’s visa remained valid and he was released from detention. But the Australian government has now acted once again.

“Today I exercised my authority under Section 133C(3) of the Migration Act to cancel the visa held by Mr. Novak Djokovic for reasons of health and good order, on the grounds that ‘it was in the public interest to do so,’ the Australian immigration minister said. Alex Hawke said in a statement Friday.

Djokovic, a vaccine skeptic aiming for a record 21st Grand Slam title, initially had his passport confiscated on January 5 after customs officers decided he did not have sufficient medical justification for a vaccine waiver.

Djokovic’s team of lawyers argued in a court filing on Saturday that the tennis player’s contraction of Covid-19 – for which he tested positive on December 16 – served as a sufficient vaccine exemption.

But controversy followed when photos emerged on December 17 of Djokovic and several young Serbian tennis players, unmasked and inside. Earlier this week, Djokovic admitted breaking Covid isolation rules while testing positive and apologizing for a mistake on his Australia travel declaration.

On Thursday, the tennis star was included in the draw for the Australian Open, which begins on Monday, despite uncertainty over his participation.

An Australian court will hold a preliminary visa cancellation hearing on Friday evening, with Djokovic’s lawyers pushing for the issue to be resolved by Sunday evening so he can play on Monday.

Djokovic’s lawyer, Nicholas Wood, reportedly told the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia that Hawke’s decision was “grossly irrational”.

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