July 13, 2024

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

Djokovic’s visa revoked again; appeal expected

MELBOURNE, Australia – The Australian minister of immigration, Alex Hawke, knows a “Friday news dump” when he sees one.

Breaking at nearly 6 p.m. Friday, Hawke issued a statement announcing that the government was revoking Novak Djokovic’s visa for the second time.

Here’s the statement released by Hawke’s office:

“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.

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

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.”

A long week of waiting for Djokovic

Hawke had this decision in his hands all week, after Djokovic’s lawyers successfully appealed the original revocation of the visa on procedural grounds.

No word yet on whether Djokovic will appeal a second time, although published reports had his legal team hoping the decision – if it came at all – would come down Friday. That would, optimally, give him time to appeal over the weekend in the hopes that, if successful, the nine-time champion could still compete in the tournament.

Djokovic’s lawyers has been supplying “lengthy additional submissions” to the immigration department in the intervening days, reports said.

The embattled world No. 1 has been practicing every day at Melbourne Park since he was sprung from the Park Hotel. Djokovic was remanded to the hotel, repurposed as an immigration detention centre, for five days after an all-night ordeal with the border officials upon his arrival in Melbourne Jan. 5.

Djokovic’s afternoon practice Saturday, originally on the schedule, was removed from the list and moved forward and for the third time, he practiced while sealed into Rod Laver Arena under utmost secrecy.

There are many unknowns in this ongoing situation – such as whether Djokovic would be remanded to the Park Hotel again, pending his appeal.

And whether his legal team will indeed appeal this decision, as they have stated they would.

As well, still to be determined is that if an appeal is either not made or quashed, and Djokovic is deported, how it might work when he wants to play the 2023 Australian Open.

The maximum penalty for deportation could be as much as three years – effectively, the rest of Djokovic’s career.

Everything on hold – for now

How this could affect the Australian Open men’s singles event is still unknown.

It’s too soon to tell.

We’ll have to wait for statements from Tennis Australia (not holding our breath) and from Djokovic and his advisors.

For the moment, nothing will change.

But if it Djokovic is pulled out of the tournament immediately, No. 5 seed Andrey Rublev would move into his spot at the top of the draw – but only if it’s done by 11 a.m. Melbourne time Saturday – 48 hours before the start of play.

(With a domino effect that moves a few other seeds around in the draw, as outlined in the story above).

If not, he would simply be replaced by a lucky loser.

But there are few chapters to go in this saga.

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