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TENNIS

Djokovic visa cancelled: what are Australia's motives and what can happen with his deportation?

Australia cancelled Novak Djokovic's visa for a second time on Friday saying the world number one tennis champion who has not been vaccinated for covid-19 may pose a health risk.

Update:
TOPSHOT - Novak Djokovic of Serbia takes part in a practice session ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 13, 2022. (Photo by Mike FREY / AFP) / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE --
MIKE FREYAFP

Australia cancelled Novak Djokovic's visa for a second time on Friday saying the world number one tennis champion who has not been vaccinated for covid-19 may pose a health risk, effectively ending his bid for a record 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used discretionary powers to again cancel Djokovic's visa, after a court quashed an earlier revocation and released him from immigration detention on Monday.

"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 said in a statement.

Under the section of the Migration Act used to cancel the visa, Djokovic would not be able to secure a visa to Australia for three years, except in compelling circumstances that affect Australia's interest.

The decision to again cancel his visa over covid-19 entry regulations raises the prospect of a possible second court battle by the Serbian tennis star to be allowed to stay and play in the Open starting Monday.

The controversy has assumed an importance that goes beyond tennis: it has intensified a global debate over the rights of the unvaccinated and become a tricky political issue for Prime Minister Scott Morrison as he campaigns for an election that is due by May.

While Morrison's government has won support at home for its tough stance on border security during the pandemic, it has not escaped criticism over the botched handling of Djokovic's visa.

(FILES) This file photo taken on February 16, 2021 shows Serbia's Novak Djokovic reacting after losing a point against Germany's Alexander Zverev during their men's singles quarter-final match on day nine of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbou
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(FILES) This file photo taken on February 16, 2021 shows Serbia's Novak Djokovic reacting after losing a point against Germany's Alexander Zverev during their men's singles quarter-final match on day nine of the Australian Open tennis tournament in MelbouBRANDON MALONEAFP

Djokovic, 34, the Australian Open defending champion, was included in Thursday's draw  as top seed and was due to face fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic for his opening match, probably on Monday or Tuesday.

A relaxed looking Djokovic practised his serves and returns with his entourage on an empty court at Melbourne Park earlier on Friday, occasionally resting in a chair to wipe sweat from his face.

Djokovic, a vaccine sceptic, fuelled widespread anger in Australia when he announced last week he was heading to Melbourne for the Australian Open with a medical exemption to requirements for visitors to be inoculated against COVID-19.

On arrival, Australian Border Force decided his exemption was invalid and put him in an immigration detention hotel alongside asylum-seekers for several days.

The government "is firmly committed to protecting Australia's borders, particularly in relation to the covid-19 pandemic", Hawke said.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 14: Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a backhand during a practice session ahead of the 2022 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 14, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)
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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 14: Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a backhand during a practice session ahead of the 2022 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 14, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)Daniel PockettGetty Images

He said he had "carefully considered" information from Djokovic, the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Border Force.

Australia has endured some of the world's longest lockdowns, has a 90% vaccination rate among adults, and has seen a runaway Omicron outbreak bring nearly a million cases in the last two weeks.

Djokovic passport saga: live updates

Follow our dedicated live feed coverage of the Djokovic situation as question marks about his participation in the Australian Open still persist.

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