Novak Djokovic's visa has been cancelled for a second time ahead of the Australian Open

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announced late on Friday that he had used his ministerial powers to personally cancel Djokovic's visa on "health and good order grounds".

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke (L) and tennis player Novak Djokovic (R).

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke (L) and tennis player Novak Djokovic (R). Source: SBS News

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has cancelled tennis star Novak Djokovic's visa, days out from the Australian Open. 

Mr Hawke announced the decision late on Friday that he had used his ministerial powers to personally cancel Djokovic's visa on "health and good order grounds". 

"Today I exercised my power under section 133C(3) of the Migration Act to cancel the visa held by Mr Novak Djokovic on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so," he said in a statement. 

"In making this decision, I carefully considered information provided to me by the Department of Home Affairs, the Australian Border Force and Mr Djokovic."

It comes after the tennis star, who is unvaccinated against COVID-19, had his visa cancelled by the federal government for the first time after flying into Melbourne last week for failing to "provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia".

He had been kept in immigration detention before the decision to cancel his visa was later  on Monday.

But Mr Hawke was still able to exercise ministerial intervention to re-cancel the visa. 

A directions hearing for the case took place on Friday evening at the Federal Circuit Court before Judge Anthony Kelly and heard Djokovic was not currently being held in detention.

The court heard he is due to meet with immigration officials for an interview at 8am on Saturday, and will then be taken back into detention before the next legal hearing on Sunday in the Federal Court of Australia.

During Friday night's hearing, which at one stage was watched on video link by 45,000 people, Djokovic's lawyer Nicholas Wood, SC, told the court that the minister believed the player's presence in Melbourne had potential for "exciting anti-vax sentiment".

He described those conclusions as seeming "patently irrational".

In handing down his orders, Judge Kelly sought an undertaking from the minister that until a final decision was made Djokovic wouldn't be removed from the country.

As dictated by the law, following an adverse decision under section 133C(3), an affected person would not be able to be granted a visa while offshore for three years, except in compelling circumstances that affect the interests of Australia or of an Australian citizen, permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen. 

The continuation of legal proceedings was mentioned by Prime Minister Scott Morrison who said: "I note the Minister for Immigration's decision in relation to Mr Novak Djokovic’s visa.

"I understand that following careful consideration, action has been taken by the Minister to cancel Mr Djokovic’s visa held on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so.

"This pandemic has been incredibly difficult for every Australian but we have stuck together and saved lives and livelihoods."

He added that Australians had made "many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected".

"This is what the Minister is doing in taking this action today. 

"Our strong border protection policies have kept Australians safe, prior to COVID and now during the pandemic. 

"Due to the expected ongoing legal proceedings, I will be not be providing any further comment."

Australia's border rules currently ban non-double vaccinated people from overseas from entering the country unless they have a medical exemption from having the shots, which Djokovic believed he had.

Djokovic's lawyers, who are likely to challenge the latest cancellation in court, had provided lengthy submissions and supporting documentation to the minister.

Officials looked into potential discrepancies on his declaration form, which stated he did not travel out of the country in the two weeks before his flight to Australia.

However, Djokovic was filmed playing tennis in the streets of Belgrade in Serbia on Christmas Day and training in Spain on 31 December, both within the 14-day window.

Posting on Instagram on Wednesday, Djokovic said the mistake on his immigration form about travel prior to arriving for the Open was an "administrative error".

The statement also addressed what he called "continuing misinformation" about his activities in the lead up to his positive PCR COVID test result.

He admitted to attending a media interview in Belgrade on 18 December after carrying out both PCR and rapid antigen tests two days earlier, and receiving a positive result the previous day. 

"While I went home after the interview to isolate for the required period, on reflection, this was an error of judgement and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment," he added.

The Australian Open begins on Monday and he was drawn against compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic for his first-round match in pursuit of a record 21st grand slam title.

With AAP

5 min read
Published 14 January 2022 at 6:02pm
Source: SBS News