Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open campaign appears to have been cut short for the second time in a week after his visa was cancelled again.
On Friday afternoon, Federal Immigration Minister Alex Hawke invoked his ministerial power to cancel Djokovic’s visa and have him deported from Australia.
On October 20 last year, Minister Hawke indicated that unvaccinated athletes would not be granted a visa to enter the country, and the minister has stuck true to his word.
Minister Hawke released the following statement in regards to his decision:
“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.
This decision followed orders by the Federal Circuit and Family Court on 10 January 2022, quashing a prior cancellation decision on procedural fairness grounds.
In making this decision, I carefully considered information provided to me by the Department of Home Affairs, the Australian Border Force and Mr Djokovic.
The Morrison Government is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.
I thank the officers of the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Border Force who work every day to serve Australia’s interests in increasingly challenging operational environments.”
This is the latest twist in the tale that has dominated the news cycle since Djokovic announced he was heading Down Under on January 4.
Djokovic has had his visa cancelled on “health and good order grounds” with the minister deeming the world No. 1 a risk to the public.
According to the minister, Djokovic poses a health risk to a state that recorded 34,000 new COVID-19 cases on Friday.
It's highly likely that Djokovic and his lawyers will appeal the decision, although they are running short on time with the Australian Open to start on Monday.
If the decision is upheld it means that the nine-time Australian Open champion will be barred from entering the country for three years.
It also appears that Minister Hawke has cancelled Djokovic's visa on the same grounds that Australian Border Force personnel did when they detained the tennis star at Melbourne Airport.
This development is good news for the Djokovic camp who have already succeeded in fighting section 116 of the Migration Act.
The following Twitter thread explains this in great detail.
Following on from Minister Hawke’s statement, Prime Minister Scott Morrison released a statement of his own addressing the situation.
The interesting part is that it is against government policy for Prime Minister Morrison to speak about one individual's visa status.
The statement adds fuel to the fire that this whole saga has an underlying political motive from Morrison and the LNP.
You can read the full statement below:
"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.
Together we have achieved one of the lowest death rates, strongest economies and highest vaccination rates, in the world.
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.
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.”
The Australian Lawyers Alliance released the following statement in regards to the decision handed down by Minister Hawke (per The Guardian).
There is certainly more water to go under the bridge in this never-ending saga.
More to come.