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Novak Djokovic faces deportation as Australia revokes visa again

By JOHN PYE and ROD McGUIRK Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia — Tennis star Novak Djokovic faces deportation again after the Australian government revoked his visa for a second time.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said Friday (Thursday night PT) he used his ministerial discretion to revoke the 34-year-old Serb’s visa on public interest grounds three days before the Australian Open is to begin.

Djokovic’s lawyers are expected to appeal the cancelation in the Federal Circuit and Family Court as they successfully did after the first cancellation.

Hawke said he canceled the visa on “health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so.”

“The Morrison Government is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hawke said in a statement, referring to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

It is the second time Djokovic’s visa has been canceled since he arrived in Melbourne last week to defend his Australian Open title.

His exemption from a COVID-19 vaccination requirement to compete was approved by the Victoria state government and Tennis Australia, the tournament organizer. That apparently allowed him to receive a visa to travel.

But the Australian Border Force rejected the exemption and canceled his visa upon arrival in Melbourne. Djokovic spent four nights in an immigration detention hotel before a judge on Monday overturned that decision.

Melbourne-based immigration lawyer Kian Bone said Djokovic’s lawyers faced an “extremely difficult” task to get court orders over the weekend to allow their client to play next week.

“For Djokovic to get the outcomes he needs to play would be extremely difficult to obtain over the weekend,” Bone said.

Hawke’s delay in reaching a decision bordered on punitive, Bone said.

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