Hearing set for Djokovic's last-gasp legal fight as Australia cancels visa again

14 January 2022, 07:03 | Updated: 15 January 2022, 13:54

Djokovic's supporters have rallied around him, but now his visa has been cancelled for the second time
Djokovic's supporters have rallied around him, but now his visa has been cancelled for the second time. Picture: Getty/Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Australia has delayed Novak Djokovic's deportation after a last ditch legal bid from the tennis star's lawyers.

Djokovic spent Friday night at liberty but was ordered to be detained from 8am on Saturday morning after being interviewed at the Department for Home Affairs.

The tennis star was permitted to spend time with his lawyers, but will be in detention on Saturday night.

His hearing has been set for 9.30am on Sunday (10.30pm Saturday UK time).

Immigration officials had earlier said that the unvaccinated world tennis No.1, should be forced out of the country after his visa had been cancelled for the second time, because he could pose a risk to the community.

But the Serbian's lawyers fought back, arguing in court on Friday night that Immigration Minister Alex Hawke had cancelled Djokovic's visa on the grounds his presence in the country might excite anti-vaccination sentiment, and not because he was unvaccinated.

The reasons for Hawke's decision have not yet been published.

The decision means the tennis star, 34, faces an agonising wait to see if he can take part in the Australian Open which starts on Monday,

Read more: Djokovic in Australian Open draw but still faces threat of deportation

Read more: Djokovic admits 'error of judgment' by breaking isolation rules while Covid positive

But this time the stakes are higher, as the cancellation of his visa in this way means he could be banned from entering the country for three years.

It means his participation in the next three Australia Opens now hangs in the balance.

And, just before 6pm - 7am UK time - on Friday, Hawke released a statement saying he had made the judgement to send Djokovic home "on health and good order grounds".

Read more: Anti-vaxx tennis star Novak Djokovic breaks silence amid Covid visa row

Read more: Djokovic's wife calls for 'love and forgiveness' as tennis star held in anti-vax row

Mr Hawke said: "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.

"This decision followed orders by the Federal Circuit and Family Court on 10 January 2022, quashing a prior cancellation decision on procedural fairness grounds.

"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."

Djokovic has been practising for the Australian Open since he was released from detention on Monday
Djokovic has been practising for the Australian Open since he was released from detention on Monday. Picture: Getty

Djokovic arrived in Melbourne on January 5 having been granted an exemption through Tennis Australia from the country's strict entry rules regarding Covid-19 vaccination on the grounds that he had been recently infected with the virus.

But he was stopped by the Australian Border Force and questioned through the night before being informed that his visa had been cancelled.

He was then taken to a detention hotel.

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Djokovic appealed the decision and five days later a judge ruled in his favour, seemingly freeing him up to play in the Australian Open.

The 20-times grand slam winner headed straight to Melbourne Park after being freed from the hotel on Monday.

He has practised every day since, including early on Friday morning, but his hopes of staying in the country have faded as the week has gone on following revelations about his conduct.

Read more: 'I want to stay' says Djokovic, but bid to play in Australian Open still hangs in balance

Documents revealed Djokovic tested positive in Serbia on December 16 - but he was photographed at events on the following two days and issued a statement earlier this week admitting he took part in an interview with French newspaper L'Equipe at his tennis centre in Belgrade despite knowing he had the virus.

He also admitted his declaration form falsely claimed he had not travelled in the 14 days prior to his trip to Australia, which he attributed to a mistake from his agent.

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