Novak Djokovic has visa canceled for second time; case moves to Federal Court for hearing

Novak Djokovic’s Australian visa has been canceled for a second time and the world No. 1 tennis star is once again facing deportation. The 20-time Grand Slam champion is now scheduled to have a hearing in front of the Federal Court of Australia on Jan. 16 at 9:30 a.m. in Melbourne (5:30 p.m. ET on Jan. 15), according to the Federal Court of Australia.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke released a statement Friday, saying he made the decision to revoke the visa “on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so.” The parties held a procedural hearing at 10:15 a.m. Saturday in Melbourne (6:15 p.m. ET Friday) to confirm the final hearing arrangements.

Djokovic, who had his visa initially revoked and then reinstated last Monday, could face deportation and a three-year ban from entering the country. He does have the ability to appeal the verdict in order to play in the 2022 Australian Open, which begins on Monday.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison released a statement supporting Hawkes’ decision, saying “this pandemic has been incredibly difficult for every Australian, but we have stuck together and saved lives and livelihoods.”

“Together we have achieved one of the lowest death rates, strongest economies and highest vaccination rates in the world,” he added. “Australians have 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.”

On Thursday, Djokovic secured the No. 1 seed in the Australian Open draw early Thursday morning and was set to face fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round.

On Wednesday, Djokovic attempted to clarify the details behind his positive test for COVID-19 last month, saying his team made an error on his forms to enter Australia in a lengthy statement published to Instagram.

Djokovic apologized for an “error in judgment” when he attended an interview at his tennis center in Serbia one day after learning he tested positive for COVID-19 on a PCR test. Djokovic received notification of a positive test on Dec. 17 after two rapid antigen tests came back negative, he said, but felt “obliged to go ahead and conduct” the interview with a journalist from L’Equipe.

“This was an error of judgment and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment,” he said.

The positive test last month has come into focus as Djokovic’s status in Australia remains the dominant storyline ahead of next week’s Australian Open. Djokovic’s recent positive test was part of the tennis star’s application for a medical exemption to enter the country and play the tournament.

The world No. 1 men’s singles player, who is not vaccinated, flew to Melbourne after he was granted an exemption by the tournament and Victorian state government from its vaccine requirement. The Australian federal government, however, denied Djokovic entry to the country, canceling his visa. A judge overturned the visa cancellation on Monday and ordered Djokovic be released from immigration detention.

Djokovic hopes to play in the Australian Open and resumed training at Melbourne Park on Tuesday and Wednesday, but Hawke still has the personal discretion to cancel his visa, which would result in a three-year ban from the country.

The errors on Djokovic’s immigration form include his statement that he had not traveled in the two weeks prior to his flight to Australia, The Associated Press reported. Djokovic was seen in Spain and Serbia during that time.

“My agent sincerely apologies for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box about my previous travel before coming to Australia,” Djokovic wrote Tuesday. “This was a human error and certainly not deliberate. We are living in challenging times in a global pandemic and sometimes these mistakes can occur. Today, my team has provided additional information to the Australian government to clarify this matter.”

Djokovic attended a basketball game in Belgrade, Serbia, on Dec. 14, after which reports indicated a number of people tested positive for COVID-19, he said. He took a rapid antigen test and PCR test on Dec. 16, and another rapid test on Dec. 17 before attending a tennis event in which he presented awards to children. Both rapid tests came back negative, but the PCR test revealed a positive result after he had already attended the event. Djokovic canceled all other events, he said, except for the L’Equipe interview on Dec. 18.

Djokovic has won the men’s singles tournament a record nine times, including each of the past three years.

(Photo: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)


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