In a fresh blow, Novak Djokovic is likely to be deported from Australia under the orders of the immigration minister of Australia, Alex Hawke, with the world #1 and nine-time champion set to miss the Australian Open as a result. It has been a damaging few days for the Serbian’s reputation, particularly in Australia, after he arrived in the country under a purported medical exemption from vaccination, only to be held at the airport in Melbourne until the early hours of the morning due to issues with his entry paperwork and questions about whether he met the standard for entry into Australia under their current laws.
Djokovic was subsequently informed he was to be deported, but he challenged that decision, successfully in the courts with the order for his deportation reversed. That allowed Djokovic the opportunity to practice on Rod Laver Arena, but it was a stay of execution only. The decision as to whether or not to allow him to remain in the country remained in the hands of the Australian immigration minister, and with public opinion firmly against him, the outlook for Djokovic was never particularly positive.
It was made worse by uncertainties over when he had actually tested positive for COVID-19, which was the basis of his exemption, and whether he had been mingling in public after testing positive. There remain uncertainties surrounding the exact truth of that, but what is certain is that Djokovic will not be able to defend his Australian Open title with the immigration minister electing to deport Djokovic from the country.
“Today I exercised my power under section 133C(3) of the Migration Act 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.”
Although Prime Minister Scott Morrison did not announce Djokovic’s deportation in a press conference shortly before the Australian Open draw was to be announced, stating the process still had time to play out, the immigration minister ordered his VISA to be revoked the next day, annulling Djokovic’s scheduled match against countryman Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round. Djokovic is expected to file lawsuits again to delay the deportation, but it’s widely expected that–unlike the initial visa cancellation–such protests will not succeed.
Statement from PM Scott Morrison on Djokovic visa decision pic.twitter.com/FwOrFJm4wI
— Andrew Brown (@AndrewBrownAU) January 14, 2022
That denies Djokovic the chance to win a record extending tenth Australian Open title as well as the chance to move past Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the Grand Slam tally. It also raises uncertainty as to whether Djokovic will be able to compete in Australia again in his career, with the Serbian facing a possible three-year ban on entering the country. And, with vaccine mandates increasingly common across the world, this may also not be the last issues Djokovic has with traveling.
In the short term, however, it has brought an end to what has been a largely unedifying saga on all sides, as well as throwing the Australian Open men’s singles, which Djokovic has dominated for the last decade, wide open. One suspects there will be no shortage of players keen to take advantage in the absence of the World #1. Djokovic’s place in the draw will be taken by Russia’s Andrey Rublev, with Rublev set to face Kecmanovic.
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