Novak Djokovic has visa cancelled for a second time, days before the Australian Open

Novak Djokovic is set to be deported just days before the Australian Open starts after the federal immigration minister cancelled his visa.

The world No.1 landed in Australia a week ago and had his visa cancelled by Australian Border Force officials for entering the country while unvaccinated.

After Djokovic spent a weekend in immigration detention, the visa cancellation was quashed in the Federal Circuit Court.

But on Friday afternoon, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used his discretionary powers to kick the Serbian stay out of Australia.

“Today I exercised my power… 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,” Mr Hawke said in a statement.

“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.

“I thank the officers of the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Border Force who work every day to serve Australia’s interests in increasingly challenging operational environments.”

An urgent directions hearing on the visa cancellation took place in the Federal Circuit Court, late on Friday, where the tennis star’s lawyers asked for an injunction preventing his removal.

Djokovic is set to meet with immigration officials for an interview on Saturday morning. His lawyers confirmed on Friday night that the tennis star was not being held in immigration detention.

Judge Kelly in the Federal Circuit Court already foreshadowed the case would come back to court if Djokovic’s visa was cancelled.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison backed his minister’s decision in a statement which highlighted Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Together we have achieved one of the lowest death rates, strongest economies and highest vaccination rates, in the world,” Mr Morrison said on Friday night.

“Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected.

“This is what the minister is doing in taking this action today.

“Due to the expected ongoing legal proceedings, I will be not be providing any further comment.”

Officials had been looking into potential discrepancies on Djokovic’s declaration form, which stated the tennis star did not travel out of the country in the two weeks before his flight to Australia.

Djokovic was filmed playing tennis in Serbia on Christmas Day and was later seen training in Spain on December 31, both in the two-week window.

However, Djokovic has denied he was trying to mislead the government on the form, stating an agent had made an “administrative mistake” while filling out the form.

“My agent sincerely apologises for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box about my previous travel before coming to Australia,” a statement posted to Djokovic’s Instagram read.

“This was human error and certainly not deliberate.”

In a statement posted to social media on Wednesday afternoon, the Serbian player also admitted to attending a media interview in Belgrade when he knew he had COVID.

Djokovic said he attended a basketball game in Belgrade on December 14 and returned a negative rapid antigen test two days later.

He took an “official and approved” PCR test the same day.

The next day, on December 17, he went to a tennis event to present awards to the children and said he returned another negative rapid test prior to going.

“I was asymptomatic and felt good, and I had not received the notification of a positive PCR test until after that event,” he said.

Djokovic said the positive PCR result was returned the next day, on December 17 when he was in Belgrade.

He said the following day he still honoured one commitment, despite the result.

“I cancelled all other events except for the L’Equipe interview. I felt obliged to go ahead and conduct the L’Equipe interview as I did not want to let the journalist down,” he said.

The tennis star said he only removed his mask for photos.

“While I went home after the interview to isolate for the required period, on reflection, this was an error of judgement and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment,” he said.

But there are more questions over the timeline with court documents referencing that the positive COVID-19 test was recorded on December 16, not December 17.

On Friday, Australia’s former Deputy Secretary of Immigration Abul Rizvi told Sunrise the days-long delay making a decision on Djokovic’s deportation is because of “very complex” legal questions.

“I think the government is particularly worried that whatever legal action it takes, Mr Djokovic will appeal, this will be back in the courts and it is quite possible that the government may lose again,” he explained.

Djokovic, who has been named as the top seed in the Australian Open draw, has been practicing on Rod Laver Arena ahead of the grand slam which begins on Monday.

The tournament could see Djokovic facing off against world number four Stefanos Tsitsipas, who on Thursday accused him of “playing by his own rules” and making vaccinated players “look like fools”.

The Greek player told Indian news channel Wion it took “a lot of daring” for Djokovic to travel to Australia unvaccinated and put a grand slam at risk.

“No one would have really thought: ‘I can just come to Australia unvaccinated and not having to follow the protocols that they gave me’,” he said.

“I chose to go and be 100 per cent ready for whatever comes and not having to think about anything else.”

Tsitsipas said the overwhelming majority of players had done what they needed to do to play at the Australian Open, with all players even needing to be vaccinated or to have an approved medical exemption.

“We’ve all kind of followed the protocols in order to compete in Australia, and we’ve been very disciplined in that part,” he said.

“It seems like not everyone is playing by the rules of how Tennis Australia or some governments have been putting things.

“A very small percentage chose to follow their own way which kind of makes the majority look like they’re all fools or something.”