Scott Morrison leaves door open for Novak Djokovic to return within three-year ban

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has left the door open for Novak Djokovic to return to Australia without having to wait out a three-year ban.

The tennis star left the country last night after the Federal Court upheld a decision by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke to cancel his visa.

It means the 34-year-old will miss out on the chance to defend his title at the Australian Open.

Mr Hawke’s decision to use his ministerial powers under the Migration Act also means Djokovic is now barred from returning to Australia for the next three years, “except in certain circumstances”.

While Mr Morrison did not provide any assurances, when asked if the situation could change if Djokovic got vaccinated, Mr Morrison noted there was a possibility the tennis star could return sooner.

“I’m not going to sort of precondition any of that or say anything that would not enable the minister to make the various calls they have to make,” he told Nine radio.

“I mean, it does go over a three-year period, but there is the opportunity for them to return in the right circumstances and that would be considered at the time.”

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews noted if Djokovic had a “compelling reason” in the future it would be considered but that it was “all hypothetical at this point”.

“Any application will be reviewed on its merits,” she told Channel Nine.

There has been public outcry in Serbia at Djokovic’s deportation, with leaders describing the Australian government’s actions as “scandalous” and the treatment of the world men’s number one as akin to torture.

Ms Andrews said she was aware of the international reaction to the decision, but believed the right call was made.

“I understand that this has played out very publicly, but Australians can be very confident that the Morrison government, and its ministers, will do all that they can to ensure that Australia has strong borders,” she said.

“And that those people attempting to come to Australia abide by the laws of the time.”

While the federal opposition agrees that deporting Djokovic was right, it said the drawn-out process reflects poorly on Australia.

Djokovic applied for and was granted a medical exemption by two independent panels who assessed his application blind — without his name or details.

But when he landed in Melbourne, Australian Border Force officials cancelled his visa on the grounds he did not meet the entry requirements of being double-vaccinated.

“Mr Morrison never should have granted Novak Djokovic that visa in the first place,” Shadow Home Affairs Minister Kristina Kenneally said.

“This is a series of unforced errors on Mr Morrison’s part, and it’s a mess on our borders, we are now an international embarrassment thanks to Mr Morrison’s bungles.”