International tennis champion Novak Djokovic's visa to Australia has been cancelled for a second time - once again endangering his participation in the Australia Open - Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announced on Friday.
Hawke said in a statement he had used his power to cancel Djokovic's visa "on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so." At issue is whether Djokovic had the proper documentation to enter the country, which has some of the world's strictest entry policies due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision means Djokovic now faces being deported from the country just three days before he was to take to the court in the Australian Open.
The case of Djokovic, who has often spoken sceptically about coronavirus vaccines, has become a lightning rod, especially in a country that kept many of its own citizens locked out for months or years due to coronavirus concerns.
"The [Scott] Morrison government is firmly committed to protecting Australia's borders, particularly in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic," Hawke said in a statement.
A record nine-time champion at Melbourne Park, Djokovic is seeking a record 21st career grand slam title.
Slated to play on Monday
The 34-year-old Serb was slated to play fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic in the opening round on Monday.
Djokovic was detained at a Melbourne airport following his arrival in Australia on January 6 after the Australian Border Force (ABF) raised concerns over his entry visa.
The Serbian had received a Covid-19 vaccination exemption from tournament organizers, allowing him to compete in the event, but that was not enough for airport officials. Djokovic had the virus late last year, but questions have arisen about whether he followed all guidelines for an infected person.
His visa was cancelled and Djokovic was detained while his lawyers sought an appeal. A judge reinstated his visa, and ordered his release, on Monday.
Djokovic’s lawyers can appeal the latest cancellation in the Federal Circuit and Family Court, as they successfully did on Monday.