SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian immigration minister Alex Hawke on Friday used his personal power to revoke the visa of world number one tennis player Novak Djokovic, in a bid to deport him ahead of the Australian Open, which begins on Monday.
The Australian Border Force initially abolished Djokovic’s visa upon arrival in the country without required COVID vaccinations. But Djokovic then won a legal appeal against his deportation and was released from hotel custody by a Melbourne judge, after the Australian government had to admit he had not been given enough time to respond to the notification of its intention to revoke his visa.
After days of internal conversations, Hook said in a statment He had decided to use his personal powers to deport Djokovic”For reasons of health and order, on the understanding that it is in the public interest to do so.”
He added: “The Morrison government is deeply committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Our robust protections have kept Australians safe, before COVID and now during the pandemic,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement.
According to media reports, Djokovic’s lawyers have indicated that they intend to appeal if Australia moves to deport the Serbian tennis champion.
A tumultuous legal saga has cast a shadow over the Australian Open, and raised key questions for Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government.
Djokovic, who won the Australian Open nine times, tried to enter Australia with a medical exemption from vaccination, due to a previous infection with the COVID virus, which an affidavit from the court shows he tested positive on December 16. Miscalculation “in breaching the COVID isolation rules in Serbia while she tested positive for the virus.