Australia’s government cancelled Novak Djokovic’s visa for a second time Friday as it sought to deport the tennis superstar after he arrived in the country without a Covid-19 vaccine.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said he acted on “health and good order grounds on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so”.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government “is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hawke said in a statement.
The cancellation effectively means Djokovic would be barred from a new Australian visa for three years, except under certain circumstances.
Here’s what it all means…
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WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Djokovic’s legal team has filed an injuction — that was the first step.
A Djokovic legal challenge against the decision could possibly drag on until next week – once the Australian Open has already begun, meaning he could be deported after his first match is scheduled to be played.
An appeal is currently being heard by Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly – the same judge who initially overturned the initial Border Force decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa.
The Age reports that Djokovic’s legal team are hopeful the case can be fast-tracked by minimising the length of written submissions and verbal evidence, in the hope of reaching a Sunday or even Monday decision which would allow Djokovic to defend his Australian Open crown.
At this stage the main hearing is set for Sunday, with Djokovic to be detained until then.
HOW DID IT COME TO THIS?
Djokovic was initially granted a visa to enter Australia on the basis that he had recently tested positive for Covid-19, even though he is not vaccinated.
However, upon arriving at Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne, he was informed that his exemption was invalid and that his visa had been cancelled.
He was subsequently placed in detention in a Carlton hotel before he was freed after his lawyers won his appeal, which was heard on Monday.
Despite the ruling, Hawke suggested that he would consider another way to remove Djokovic from the country.
The announcement of his deportation came after the draw for the Australian Open was due to take place, after it was initially postponed for more than an hour to await the outcome of the national cabinet meeting.
However, no decision was made at that point and the draw went ahead at the rescheduled time of 4.15pm AEDT.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE DRAW?
If Djokovic does withdraw, or is forcibly withdrawn via deportation, from the Australian Open, the No.5 seed (Andrey Rublev) will take his spot in the bracket.
Rublev’s spot would be taken by the No.17 seed (Gael Monfils), while Monfils’ spot would be taken by the highest-ranked non-seed (Alexander Bublik).
However if Djokovic withdraws after the first day’s order of play is released – he would be replaced by a Lucky Loser (one of the highest-ranked losers from the final round of qualifying).
Therefore if Djokovic is still in Australia this weekend, but ends up being forced to leave before Monday, it will completely open up the top section of the draw.