Saturday, March 2, 2024

Australia cancels Novak Djokovic’s visa for second time

Immigration chief says decision is in the public interest
Tennis star Novak Djokovic is facing deportation after the Australian government revoked his visa for a second time. Deportation from Australia can lead to a three-year ban on returning to the country, although that may be waived, depending on the circumstances.
The Australian government cancelled his visa on Friday, saying the world’s top-ranked men’s tennis player, unvaccinated for COVID-19, may pose a risk to the community.
Djokovic, 34, has been embroiled in a legal and political storm since arriving in Melbourne last Thursday, when he was denied entry and had his visa cancelled after the Australia Border Force deemed evidence of his medical exemption against Covid-19 vaccination insufficient.
After spending four days in an immigration detention centre, the world No 1 won his appeal after the court quashed the revocation and has since been practicing at Melbourne Park ahead of his Australian Open title defence.
However, the Australian government made it clear it would still consider revoking Djokovic’s visa, and on Friday, Hawke used his broad discretionary powers under Australia’s Migration Act.
“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.
The government “is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Hawke said.
He said he had “carefully considered” information from Djokovic, the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Border Force.
Under the section of the Migration Act which the minister used to exercise his power to cancel the visa, Djokovic would not be able to secure a visa to come to Australia for three years, except in compelling circumstances that affect Australia’s interest.
Djokovic flew into Australia on January 5 claiming a vaccine exemption because of a positive PCR test result on December 16. Border agents rejected his exemption, saying a recent infection was an insufficient reason, tore up his visa and placed him in a detention centre.
Following the court’s overruling which allowed his entry into Australia, it was revealed that Djokovic was photographed attending public events – including one with dozens of children – in the days following his positive Covid-19 result. He also kept an interview appointment with French media outlet L’Equipe even when he knew he was positive.
Additionally, it has been shown that Djokovic provided incorrect information on his visa documents, which stated he had not travelled to another country for 14 days prior to his arrival in Melbourne, when in fact he had travelled from Serbia to Spain.
Djokovic sought to explain the issues in a statement posted on social media, while insisting the incorrect information was an “administrative mistake” by his agent.
The saga has caused outrage on both sides and ignited a diplomatic storm, with Morrison – seeking re-election later this year – keen to appear firm on entry rules as Australia battles an Omicron outbreak. “Rules are rules”, the prime minister has said, while a recent poll by the News Corp media group found that 83 per cent favoured the government trying to deport Djokovic.
On the other side of the debate, hundreds of Djokovic fans have held protests in Melbourne in support of the nine-time Australian Open champion, and Serbian prime minister Ana Brnabic said the country would “stand by Novak” and claimed he had been “treated differently” to other players who were allowed to enter Australia.

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