Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open bid in doubt again after government cancels visa for second time

Novak Djokovic Australian Open – AFP

Novak Djokovic is out of the Australian Open, once again, after immigration minister Alex Hawke cancelled his visa.

Djokovic’s lawyers had won him an eight-day stay of execution following the world No 1’s original immigration issues at Tullamarine Airport.

But the hammer finally dropped on Djokovic for a second time on Friday, just before 6pm.

Although Djokovic is not entitled to appeal against Hawke’s verdict, he can call for a judicial review. And his lawyers have already indicated that they were preparing their case for exactly this eventuality.

“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.

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“This decision followed orders by the Federal Circuit and Family Court on Jan 10 2022, quashing a prior cancellation decision on procedural fairness grounds.

Alex Hawke Australia immigration minister - AAP

Alex Hawke Australia immigration minister – AAP

“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 interest in increasingly challenging operational environments.”

Djokovic counter-case may not even start before Australian Open begins

Djokovic’s legal team were served with papers notifying them of the visa cancellation just after 6pm on Friday local time, leaving them little leeway to respond before the weekend. Initial hopes among the Serbian’s camp was that any review would be completed by Sunday evening to enable him to, if successful, compete in Melbourne next week.

But the late nature in the verdict from Hawke has now complicated that to the point that the case may not even start until next week.

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“To arrange a hearing by Monday could be very difficult, the first available opportunity could be Tuesday, and that [whether Djokovic could play in Australian Open] depends on the scheduling of the draw,” said Simon Jeans, immigration lawyer, on ABC News.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Djokovic has been asked to attend an interview with immigration officials on Saturday, with the Department of Home Affairs currently locked in talks with his lawyers over their next steps.

There has been no attempt to take Djokovic back into detention or custody, and it is understood that he will be allowed to remain at his current accommodation with the rest of his team until the time of the interview.

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