Australia cancels Novak Djokovic's visa over COVID vaccine policy
Djokovic had been stuck in an airport due to issues related to his COVID vaccine exemption for the Australian Open."Non-citizens who do not hold a valid visa on entry or who have had their visa cancelled will be detained and removed from Australia," the border force said.
Novak Djokovic's visa has been revoked a second time, leaving the world's No. 1 men's tennis player facing deportation ahead of the Australian Open.
Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announced the decision on Friday.
“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,” Hawke’s statement reads. …
“In making the decision, I carefully considered information provided to me by the Department of Home Affairs, the Australian Border Force and Mr. Djokovic.”
Djokovic's detention becomes political issue in Australia
SYDNEY (AP) — On a tennis court, Novak Djokovic’s timing is perfect. But when he arrived in Australia to play the first Grand Slam of the year holding documents allowing him to enter the country without a COVID-19 vaccine, his timing hardly could have been worse. When Djokovic landed in Melbourne on Wednesday he found himself in a city beset by surging virus cases. Border officials rejected Djokovic’s documentation, cancelled his visa and ordered him out of the country in a move that many Australians cheered. The tennis star's outspoken opposition to the COVID-19 vaccine struck a wrong note in a city where 92% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated.
Per the Associated Press, Djokovic's attorneys are expected to appeal the decision with the Federal Circuit and Family Court. The same court granted his appeal when his visa was revoked the first time upon his arrival in Melbourne on Jan. 6. The Australian Open starts on Jan. 17.
An order like this typically comes with a three-year ban from obtaining another visa in Australia. It wasn't immediately clear if the Australian government intended to pursue such a ban.
Djokovic admitted to false info on document, not isolating while infected
The decision arrives after Djokovic released a statement on Wednesday acknowledging that he provided false information on an Australian immigration declaration and admitted to giving an in-person media interview in December while knowingly infected with COVID-19.
Australia PM Says 'No One is Above' Rules Amid Novak Djokovic's Detainment Over COVID Jab
The tennis star's detainment comes as Melbourne, where the Australian Open is held, is experiencing a massive surge in COVID cases.Djokovic, who has denied confirming whether or not he has received the COVID-19 vaccine, was detained by immigration authorities on Thursday. The Serbian tennis player was originally allowed to attend the Australian Open through an exemption given by the Victoria state government and Tennis Australia. However, that exemption and his visa were canceled upon his arrival to the country on Wednesday.
Djokovic was initially granted a medical exemption to Australian Open COVID-19 vaccine requirements by Tennis Australia and the state of Victoria prior to his arrival in Melbourne. The Australian Border Force canceled his visa while he was in transit, declaring that he "failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia." Immigrants are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 barring a medical exemption.
Djokovic was detained in an immigration hotel until Jan. 10, when Judge Anthony Kelly reinstated his visa, overruling the previous decision by federal immigration authorities. Kelly reasoned in his ruling that authorities made their final decision to revoke Djokovic's visa at 7:42 a.m. when they had promised to allow him until 8:30 a.m. to respond to the cancelation.
Video: Tennis star Novak Djokovic is back on the court after an Australian judge revoked his visa cancellation (CNBC)
Djokovic detention draws focus to Australia's asylum-seekers
SYDNEY (AP) — Novak Djokovic spent a fourth day on Sunday among the unwilling occupants of Melbourne's Park Hotel. The tennis superstar is awaiting court proceedings on Monday that will determine whether he can defend his Australian Open title or whether he will be deported — and the world has shown keen interest in his temporary accommodation. His fellow residents in the immigration detention hotel include refugees and asylum-seekers who are challenging their own proceedings that have all lasted much longer than Djokovic's. So long in some cases they feel forgotten.
Djokovic isn't vaccinated against COVID-19
Since his visa was initially reinstated, it was revealed that Djokovic declared that he isn't vaccinated and tested positive for COVID-19 in December, which he cited as the basis for his medical exemption request.
Meanwhile, reports and social media posts have shown that Djokovic traveled from his home country of Serbia to Spain in the two weeks prior to his arrival in Australia, contradicting a declaration on immigration documents that he hadn't traveled the previous 14 days.
In his statement on Wednesday, Djokovic blamed his agent for "ticking the incorrect box" regarding his previous travel.
"On the issue of my travel declaration, this was submitted by my support team on my behalf — as I told immigration officials on my arrival — and my agent sincerely apologizes for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box about my previous travel before coming to Australia. This was a human error and certainly not deliberate.
"We are living in challenging times in a global pandemic and sometimes these mistakes can occur."
2022 Australian Open betting preview: Is Novak Djokovic a fade?
It’s already been an eventful affair with the drama surrounding world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, his vaccination status and whether he should play. Djokovic is still listed as the No. 1 seed of the ATP draw as of Thursday, but a lot can change from now until the start of the tournament. If Djokovic plays he has a solid chance at reaching another Australian Open final, which is his most successful Grand Slam event. Djokovic has won 20 Grand Slam titles and nine at the Australian. He enters as the reigning champ and is on his second three-year winning streak at the event. Djokovic has never won four straight Australian Opens.
Per Reuters, providing false or misleading information on an immigration declaration is an offense carrying a maximum of 12 months in prison and can lead to the cancelation of one's visa.
Djokovic also admitted to giving an in-person interview and sitting for a photoshoot with French media on Dec. 18 while he knew he was infected with COVID-19.
“I was asymptomatic and felt good, and I had not received the notification of a positive PCR test result until after that event,” Djokovic wrote, referencing a tennis event in Belgrade. “The next day, on 18 December, I was at my tennis center in Belgrade to fulfill a long-standing commitment for a L’Equipe interview and photoshoot. I canceled all other events except for the L’Equipe interview.
“I felt obliged to go ahead and conduct the L’Equipe interview as I didn’t want to let the journalist down, but did ensure I socially distanced and wore a mask except when my photograph was being taken.
“While I went home after the interview to isolate for the required period, on reflection, this was an error of judgment and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment.”
L’Equipe reported that reporter Franck Ramella and photographer Etienne Garnier were not told before meeting with Djokovic that he was infected with COVID-19.
Djokovic is the world's No. 1 ranked player and a nine-time Australian Open champion. He's tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer with the most career men's grand slams victories at 20.
How Novak Djokovic could be barred from playing in French Open .
Under the new rules, athletes without a vaccine pass cannot compete in France. Professional athletes, regardless of nationality, will now have to show their credentials and present a vaccine pass to access sports venues, France’s Minister of Sports Roxana Maracineanu told reporters on Monday.