Top-ranked men's tennis star Novak Djokovic is again facing deportation after Australia revoked his visa for a second time on “health and good order grounds” and on the basis of it being in the “public interest” — just days before the start of the Australian Open.
“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,” Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said in a statement on Friday.
Hawke said that he made the decision after he had “carefully considered information” that he had been given by the Serbian tennis star, Australian Border Force and Department of Home Affairs.
“The Morrison Government is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hawke said.
Djokovic is expected to meet with immigration officials and his lawyers Saturday morning regarding the matter after a court hearing made clear that he would not be immediately deported or detained in the country, The Associated Press reported.
The Serbian tennis star is expected to appeal the decision again on Friday night.
It is the second time that Djokovic, who had been granted a medical exemption by tennis officials to play in the Open, has had his visa revoked over COVID-19 protocols.
Athletes, fans and officials are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the Australian Open, the first of four Grand Slam tournaments held each year.
Despite Djokovic's medical exemption, Australian officials said that Djokovic’s visa had been canceled because he had not provided adequate evidence to meet entry criteria. The Serbian tennis star had been infected with COVID-19 before his entry had been initially denied by authorities, according to a court filing.
That decision was subsequently overturned by a judge after he ruled that his visa had been revoked before Djokovic had had enough time to speak with his lawyers.
--Updated at 7:34 a.m.