Australia cancels Novak Djokovic visa again

Australia cancels Novak Djokovic visa again
Australia cancels Novak Djokovic visa again
Australia cancels Novak Djokovic visa again

Novak Djokovic’s visa was rejected for the second time on Friday in a stunning new attempt to deport the unvaccinated tennis champion.

After being beaten in court, the country’s conservative administration used exceptional executive powers to revoke the 34-year-old Serbian visa on public interest grounds.
The decision was made just three days before the Australian Open, putting Djokovic’s chances of winning a record 21st Grand Slam in jeopardy.

Djokovic, an outspoken opponent of the Covid-19 vaccine, is the tournament’s top seed and had been practicing on the Melbourne Park courts just hours before Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s shocking announcement.

Hawke said in a statement that the government is “firmly committed to securing Australia’s borders, particularly in connection to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

He justified the decision by citing “health and good order considerations” and claiming that “it was in the public interest to do so.”

“Australians have made significant sacrifices throughout this pandemic, and they properly expect the consequence of those sacrifices to be preserved,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

The visa revocation effectively prevents the world’s number one tennis player from receiving a new Australian visa for three years, unless he meets certain criteria.

The tennis star, though, challenged the ruling in an extraordinary court session late Friday.

Djokovic’s lawyer, Nick Wood, filed an injunction to prevent his deportation and an appeal to keep him out of immigration detention while the issue is being resolved.

“We’re quite concerned about the passage of time,” Wood added, saying that the government’s decision was “irrational.”

‘All fools’

Djokovic’s compatriots in Belgrade were stunned by the news.

“To argue that a high-level athlete like Novak is a danger to Australians’ health is preposterous, it’s a scandal,” said Petar Stojanovic, a 28-year-old local government employee.

Because of a positive PCR test result on December 16, the megastar went into Melbourne airport on January 5 and claimed a vaccine exemption.

Border authorities denied his exemption, canceled his visa, and detained him for four nights in a notorious Melbourne detention center.

For foreign people attempting to enter Australia, the Australian government believes that a recent infection does not qualify them for a vaccine exemption.

On Monday, Djokovic’s top legal team won a reversal of the visa decision in federal circuit court, claiming that border officers at the airport neglected to provide him the agreed-upon time to respond.

Many Australians were outraged by Djokovic’s vaccine waiver, which came after nearly two years of some of the harshest coronavirus regulations in the world.

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Some tennis players believe Djokovic should be allowed to play again, but not everyone agrees.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, the world number four, chastised him for his actions.

In an interview with Indian broadcaster WION, Tsitsipas remarked, “For sure, he’s been playing by his own rules.”

Tsitsipas claimed that nearly everyone in the Australian Open had been immunized. Others, on the other hand, “opted to go their own way, making the majority appear to be a bunch of fools.”

‘Error of judgement’

Djokovic called stories of post-infection outings in Serbia sans a mask of “misinformation” on Wednesday.

He attended a ceremony honoring him with stamps bearing his likeness on the day of his alleged positive test in Serbia. He went to a young tennis tournament the next day. He didn’t seem to be wearing a mask as he approached both of them.

In an Instagram post, Djokovic stated that he only learned of the PCR test result after attending a children’s tennis tournament on December 17.

However, he confirmed that on December 18, he conducted an interview with the French sports daily L’Equipe.

“On retrospect, this was a blunder, and I acknowledge that I should have rescheduled this commitment,” Djokovic added.

Franck Ramella, the journalist who conducted the L’Equipe interview, said he had no idea Djokovic was Covid-positive at the time of the conversation.

The tennis player also acknowledged making a mistake on his Australian travel declaration, in which he checked a box indicating that he had not traveled in the 14 days leading up to his flight to Melbourne.

In fact, he flew from Serbia to Spain during that time, according to social media posts and sources.

Djokovic put the blame on his backroom staff. “My agent apologizes profusely for the administrative error of checking the wrong box,” he stated.

As the number of Covid-related hospitalizations rises in Melbourne, the Victorian state government announced on Thursday that the Australian Open’s capacity will be capped at 50%.

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