MELBOURNE, Australia — Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic is again facing deportation after Australia revoked his visa for the second time ahead of the Australian Open, which begins Monday, The Associated Press is reporting.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said in a statement Friday that he canceled the 34-year-old, top-ranked player’s visa “on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so.”
Djokovic’s attorneys likely will appeal the decision, according to the AP.
The news came more than a week after Djokovic’s visa was first canceled Jan. 5 after he arrived in Australia because he has not been vaccinated against COVID-19, the news agency reported. At the time, officials argued that Djokovic, who said he tested positive for coronavirus last month, did not qualify for an exemption from a rule requiring all noncitizens to be fully vaccinated against the disease before entering the country.
On Monday, Australian Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly rejected the initial attempt to cancel Djokovic’s visa, pointing out that the athlete had received medical exemptions from Tennis Australia and two medical panels.
“What more could this man have done?” the judge asked Monday, the AP reported.
Kelly also ordered officials to release Djokovic from immigration detention in a Melbourne hotel, where he had been in quarantine, according to the news agency.
Prior to Monday’s ruling, attorneys for Home Affairs Minister Karen Andres had said they might cancel Djokovic’s visa again if the judge ruled in his favor, according to the AP. Although Australian officials may grant temporary exemptions to people who have recovered from COVID-19 within the past six months, the prior infections must be classified as “acute,” Andres’ lawyers said. Djokovic, they argued, has not proven that his illness was acute.
Djokovic on Thursday was officially named the top men’s seed for the tournament.
New coronavirus cases and deaths appear to be on the rise in Australia. As of Thursday, the country was averaging more than 96,000 new cases per day – an increase of 492% over the past two weeks, according to The New York Times. Over the same 14-day period, the average number of new daily deaths rose to 31, an increase of 284%, the newspaper reported.
– The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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