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No visa, Novak: Govt bars World No.1 from Australia


Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open campaign is in tatters with the world No.1 set to be booted from the country.

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Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announced late on Friday afternoon that the nine-time Open champion’s visa had been revoked for a second time, less than three days before the year’s opening grand slam begins in Melbourne.

It ends the Serbian superstar’s quest to secure a record-breaking 21st grand slam title at the Open, which Djokovic has dominated since winning his first title in 2008.

After a four day deliberation Hawke said he had cancelled the visa on “health and good order grounds” and that it was in the public interest to do so.

Djokovic is set to be arrested and returned to a detention facility while he awaits deportation or a legal challenge.

“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,” Hawke said in a statement.

“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.”

Australian Open organisers will need to rework the draw following the late omission of the top seed, who was slated to play fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic in the opening round next week.

According to the grand slam rule book Djokovic’s withdrawal after the completion of the draw means his slot in the draw will go to No. 5 seed Andrey Rublev.

If he withdrew (or was withdrawn) after the first day’s order of play was released, he would be replaced there by a lucky loser.

With his visa first cancelled a week ago when he was sent to a detention hotel awaiting deportation, Djokovic won a reprieve in the Federal Circuit Court last Monday.

He has continued training daily at Melbourne Park including an appearance Friday morning on Rod Laver Arena.

But it proved only a temporary move with Hawke using his discretionary power to again send Djokovic packing.

There is still no guarantee it will mark the end of the drawn-out saga.

Djokovic is reportedly determined to continue the legal fight to stay and play with his lawyers preparing to file an immediate injunction against the decision.

The timing of Hawke’s announcement makes the challenge difficult with round one starting on Monday.

If Djokovic doesn’t successfully appeal the decision, under law he would be banned from being granted another visa for three years, although this can be waived.

Djokovic used a recent COVID-19 infection to gain a medical exemption from vaccination but was denied entry by Australian Border Force officials and sent to a detention hotel last Thursday.

The 34-year-old did himself no favours when he subsequently admitted in a statement this week he had provided false information on his travel declaration and blamed his agent for the error.

He said he didn’t attend any public events after testing positive but then revealed he had conducted a media interview in Serbia while knowingly infected, which he described as an “error of judgement”.

-AAP with AP and Reuters

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