Novak Djokovic’s lawyers seek to block his removal from Australia
MELBOURNE—Unvaccinated tennis star Novak Djokovic on Friday asked an Australian court to block his deportation ahead of the Australian Open after the government canceled his visa for the second time over COVID-19 entry regulations.
Djokovic’s lawyers submitted their request for an injunction late at night, less than three hours after Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used discretionary powers to revoke the visa.
The world tennis number one, bidding for a record 21st Grand Slam trophy in defending his Australian title, had been told on arrival on Jan. 5 that his visa, granted on the basis of a medical exemption from a vaccination requirement for visitors, was invalid.
He spent several days in immigration detention before that decision was revoked on procedural grounds. His lawyers said the government had told them Djokovic would not be taken back into detention on Friday night.
The Age newspaper reported that the 34-year-old Serbian had been summoned to appear before immigration officials on Saturday.
Hawke said in a statement that he had “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.”
Under Section 133C, Djokovic would not be able to secure a visa to Australia for three years, except in compelling circumstances.
The player’s legal team said Hawke had argued that allowing Djokovic to stay would excite anti-vaccination statement.
Although Djokovic has publicly opposed compulsory vaccination, he has not campaigned against vaccination in general, and his lawyers called Hawke’s decision “patently irrational.” They said they hoped their challenge could be heard by Sunday, the day before the tournament starts.