The Australian Government has canceled Novak Djokovic’s visa for a second time, leaving a cloud of doubt over the world No. 1’s hopes of winning a record-breaking 21st major title in Melbourne.
Alex Hawke, Australia’s Minister for Immigration, announced his decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa on Friday afternoon, four days after the federal circuit court overturned a move by the Australian Border Force (ABF) to cancel the Serbian tennis superstar’s visa.
“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.”
Djokovic entered the country earlier in January ahead of the Australian Open, where he was favorite to win a 10th singles title and become the first man to win 21 Grand Slam tournament titles.
Australia’s federal circuit court on Monday overturned a decision by the ABF to cancel Djokovic’s visa on the grounds that he did not meet the entry requirements amid the reportedly questions about the vaccine exemption that would have permitted him to enter.
Lawyers for Djokovic argued that he was granted a medical exemption by Tennis Australia (TA) to travel to the country and compete in the Australian Open due to a coronavirus infection on December 16, 2021.
But Hawke again revoked it under the separate Migration Act, which gives the government the power to cancel the visa of any holder it deems a risk to “the health, safety or good order of the Australian community.”
The saga has sparked anger among some people in Australia after most of the country endured long lockdowns to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Djokovic’s legal team is reportedly expected to appeal Hawke’s decision in a bid to allow him to play in the Australian Open.
The Australian Open will start in Melbourne on next Monday, January 17.