Australia’s immigration minister has issued a new statement as he considers whether to deport tennis star Novak Djokovic
Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke is still “thoroughly” considering Novak Djokovic’s case as the world number one battles deportation from the country in a visa row.
Djokovic, 34, claimed victory in his court battle on Monday when a Melbourne judge ruled that the Serbian star should be released from his detention immediately and have his Australian visa restored.
The threat of deportation still looms, however, as Immigration Minister Hawke has the personal power to intervene and cancel his visa again.
That was something noted by barrister Christopher Tan during the court case in which the government ultimately backed down.
In a new statement on Tuesday, Immigration Minister Hawke suggested that the deportation option was still very much on the table, although a decision was not likely until Wednesday at the earliest.
“As noted yesterday in the Federal Circuit and Family Court, Minister Hawke is considering whether to cancel Mr Djokovic’s visa under section 133c (3) of the Migration Act,” a spokesperson for Hawke said.
“In line with due process, Minister Hawke will thoroughly consider the matter.
“As the issue is ongoing, for legal reasons, it is inappropriate to comment further.”
Djokovic had arrived in Australia last Wednesday with a medical exemption granted by Tennis Australia and Victoria state officials, which he believed was sufficient to cross the border and compete at this month’s Australian Open.
The exemption rested on Djokovic’s recovery from a Covid infection in December, but border officials deemed that insufficient as he is unvaccinated.
They canceled Djokovic’s visa before moving him to a notorious Melbourne immigration detention hotel.
Crucially, though, Judge Anthony Kelly deemed that Djokovic had been subjected to “unreasonable” treatment, being denied access to legal representatives and tennis officials, and seemingly pressured into making a decision in the early hours of the morning.
After having his freedom restored, Djokovic wasted little time in taking to Rod Laver Arena to train on Monday night just hours after the court decision was greeted raucously by his supporters on the Melbourne streets.
I’m pleased and grateful that the Judge overturned my visa cancellation. Despite all that has happened,I want to stay and try to compete @AustralianOpen
I remain focused on that. I flew here to play at one of the most important events we have in front of the amazing fans. 👇 pic.twitter.com/iJVbMfQ037
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) January 10, 2022
The Serbian star is aiming to win a fourth straight Australian Open title and a record-extending 10th overall.
Victory in Melbourne would also mean he moves onto 21 Grand Slam titles, one ahead of rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the all-time stakes.
This year’s Australian Open main draw gets underway on January 17, meaning Djokovic’s participation could go down to the wire as his visa row rumbles on.