After many days of doubt and suspense, we finally have a decision from Australia: the Minister for Immigration, Alex Hawke, announced this Friday morning that canceled the visa again of the number one tennis player in the world, Serbian Novak Djokovic, which leads to his deportation. “Today I have exercised my powers under section 133C(3) of the Migration Law to cancel Novak Djokovic’s visa for health and public order matters, considering that it is in the public interest,” Hawke said in a statement. Without a doubt, a new setback for Nole that can be definitive.
Hours later, an Australian judge ordered this Friday during an emergency hearing that the tennis player not be “immediately” deported from Australia until the court reviews the decision of the Government to annul his visa for the second time. According to Australian media reports, will be arrested at 08:00 local time (23:00 hours on Friday in Spain) with the aim of “avoid a media circus” at the immigration offices. Djokovic is before the last match point to continue in Australia and, therefore, to be able to play the first ‘Grand Slam’ of the season, something that seems to be really complicated.
Judge Anthony Kelly determined that Djokovic remain free until 11:00 p.m. on Friday, when you go to an appointment with immigration officials in the city of Melbourne, where he will be arrested. The magistrate also requested that he be transferred on Sunday by two customs agents from the place where he will be detained to the meeting with his lawyers to prepare the case. It is expected that this case, which was transferred to the Federal Court, a higher instance, start and end on sunday, one day before the start of the Australian Open, which will be held between January 17 and 30 in the city of Melbourne.
It all started on January 5, when the tennis player arrived in Melbourne to play the tournament. When the officials asked him to show them the document proving that he had the complete vaccination schedule, condition ‘sine qua non’ to enter the country, the tennis player denied having it and yes a medical exemption that allowed him to play after having passed the covid in December. Despite this, the Customs authorities they canceled his visa and arrested him, understanding that this document was not enough, until the court ruling arrived last Monday in favor of the tennis player. It was all in Hawke’s hands.
And it is that the Minister of Immigration had a special power that allowed him to be able to decide on his presence in the country, taking into account if the player could be a public health hazard. The problem for Djokovic is that it has been shown that he did not tell the truth in the entry document to the country, stating that he had not traveled to nowhere before going to australia —at least, he was in Serbia and Spain— and that he was at various public events in Belgrade when he was already positive for covid – all of them without a mask and without social distancing – two facts that complicated his situation in Australia.
For these reasons, Hawke has made the decision to re-cancel the Serb’s visa, which his lawyers have appealed in court, after finding errors and inconsistencies in Djokovic’s declaration to enter Australia, as well as for contravening covid-19 isolation guidelines in Serbia, among other issues. Hawke has underlined that the decision comes after the court ruling of January 10, overturning a previous decision to cancel, and added that for this “he has carefully considered the information provided by the Ministry of the Interior, the Australian Border Force and Djokovic”.
“The (Australian Prime Minister Scott) Morrison Government is strongly committed to protecting Australia’s borders.”
“The Government (of Australian Prime Minister Scott) Morrison is firmly committed with the protection of Australian borders, in particular in relation to the coronavirus pandemic. I thank those Ministry of the Interior officials and to the Australian Border Force who work every day to serve the interests of Australia in increasingly challenging operating environments”, settled Hawke. This situation means that, now, it has to be the Justice that definitively decides if Nole can stay in Australia and compete in the first Grand Slam of the course or if, on the contrary, he should leave.
In fact, Scott Morrison himself praised the decision made by the Immigration Minister: “Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic and they rightly hope that the result of those sacrifices will be protected,” he said in a statement, stressing that “robust border protection policies have kept Australians safe, before covid and currently during the pandemic.” Or, put in other words, Australia is not willing to let the efforts of its citizens come to nothing, especially if an athlete who decides not to abide by the rules of the country uses a series of tricks to be able to play.
His fall from grace
Sportingly, the Australian Open was marked as one of the great moments in the history of modern tennis: Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer and Djokovic himself were before the chance to break the tie for the 20 Grand Slams with which each one has in his showcase, turning the tournament into a historic moment for their careers. But, with just six days to go until the start of the competition, little is said about it and a lot about the problems surrounding the Serb. Now, the visa withdrawal for the second time leaves him on the ropes and, except for surprise, everything indicates that he will not be able to compete, thus completing the circus around him.
And it is that strange and difficult to explain situations have surrounded Djokovic since he arrived in Australia, although he strives to get them to allow him to compete. After more than eight hours declaring at the airport, the withdrawal of the visa, the detention and the subsequent rectification thanks to the Justice, the lie on the entry document to the country – something that he attributed to “a human error” of his agent, who was the one who filled out the questionnaire – and the revelation that, while it was positive, led a normal life in Belgrade —for which he apologized, stating that it was “an error of judgement”—Hawke has decided: now, Djokovic has match ball against.