- The 34-year-old tennis star Novak Djokovic is unlikely to be able to take part in the Australian Open.
- Immigration Secretary Alex Hawke exercised his right to cancel Djokovic’s visa again.
- Thus, the tennis star could be expelled. Djokovic can appeal the decision in court.
- A court hearing in Melbourne has been scheduled at short notice tonight local time.
Novak Djokovic has again had his visa withdrawn by the Australian authorities. This was announced by Immigration Secretary Alex Hawke. Participation of the world number one in the Australian Open, which begins Monday, is not yet ruled out because the 34-year-old may be able to lodge further appeals. But it is considered unlikely.
“Today I exercised my right to void Mr. Novak Djokovic’s visa,” Hawke said in a statement, “on the basis that it is in the public interest to do so.”
The Migration Act
Under the 1958 directive, the Secretary of State for Immigration can withdraw a visa if a person poses a risk – such as a health risk – to the Australian population. The power to annul is enshrined in Section 133C(3) of the Migration Act.
According to the law, tennis pro Djokovic can no longer apply for a visa for Australia “except under certain circumstances” for three years. “Certain circumstances include compelling circumstances affecting the interests of Australia or compelling circumstances affecting the interests of an Australian citizen, permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen,” the ministry said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also defended the decision. “Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic and they rightly expect the outcome of those sacrifices to be protected,” he said.
With the exception of the Serbian community, the mood in Australia is clearly against Djokovic. “I definitely understand the people here,” said Germany’s best tennis player Angelique Kerber a few hours before the decision and formulated carefully: “Rules are rules that apply to everyone, whether you’re number one or a qualifier.”
Maybe there is a back door
Nevertheless, the tennis world number one should be allowed to speak to immigration officials. The ministry is currently in talks with the Serb’s lawyers, Australian media reported on Friday evening (local time).
So far it is unclear by when another objection by Djokovic’s side would have to be heard in court so that the top favorite in Melbourne can still start. That should probably happen this weekend. According to media reports, a bridging visa is also conceivable.
The dispute at a glance
On January 5, the 34-year-old was refused entry into the country because he was not vaccinated against the corona virus and the authorities did not have sufficient documentation for his medical exemption.
Therefore he was transferred to a hotel for people who had to leave the country. Then, on January 10, a Melbourne court ruled in favor of the 34-year-old tennis star, ordering his release from the deportation facility. The reason: the border officials would not have given Djokovic the agreed time for clarification.
But there are still inconsistencies: the tennis star argued for an entry permit during his accommodation with a positive corona test from mid-December. He was later accused of appearing in public at exactly that time despite a positive corona test because of a media appointment and thus violating the regulations in Serbia and thus endangering others.
On Wednesday, Djokovic denied intentional misrepresentation and endangering other people, but acknowledged mistakes in dealing with his positive test result. He primarily defended himself against two allegations via Instagram: he neither intentionally gave false information about his travel behavior in the 14 days before the flight to Australia, nor did he, knowing that he had a positive corona test, attend an event with children in December and go there moved without a mask.
On closer reflection, that was a misjudgment.
Djokovic described the “misinformation” that needed to be corrected as “hurting and upsetting to my family”. However, he admitted that he already knew about his positive test result in an interview with the French sports newspaper “L’Equipe” on December 18 and still did not cancel the appointment. “Although I went home after the interview and went into isolation for the prescribed period, on reflection that was a miscalculation and I recognize that I should have postponed this commitment,” he wrote.
Djokovic described the fact that his entry form incorrectly stated that he had not traveled in the 14 days before his flight to Australia as a “human error” by his agent, “which was certainly not intentional”.
SRF reporter Denise Langenegger live on site
“There was a murmur through the hall,” says Denise Langenegger, describing the mood. The SRF reporter was in the media center at the Tennis Center in Melbourne when the decision became known. You’ve heard statements like: “I knew it!” Or: “Oh, no, that can’t be true!”
Novak Djokovic was not arrested. Langenegger assumes that he is staying in the house he rented as a place to stay during the tournament. He could stay there until the interview with the immigration authorities takes place on Saturday. “It is assumed that his lawyers will now appeal. You are in talks with the government officials. They hope that there will be a decision by Sunday because the tournament starts on Monday.” Denise Langenegger thinks it’s unlikely that Djokovic can still take part in the tournament.
As far as the mood in Australia’s population is concerned, the journalist points to a survey of 60,000 people by various newspapers. 83 percent of respondents said Djokovic had no right to stay in Australia.
Djokovic would face Miomir Kecmanovic
Djokovic has been preparing for the Australian Open quite normally so far. There he is the defending champion, on Thursday the Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic was drawn as his opponent for the first round.
On Friday, the number one in the world rankings trained earlier in the day instead of in the afternoon as originally planned. The Rod Laver Arena is his favorite place, and the Serb has often dominated the Australian Open in recent years.