MELBOURNE: Tennis superstar Novak Djokovic went to court to prevent his deportation from Australia Friday, after the government revoked his visa for a second time.
Djokovic’s lawyer Nick Wood requested an injunction against the Serbian’s removal and appealed for him to be allowed to stay out of immigration detention as the case proceeds.
“We are very concerned about time,” Wood told an emergency hearing three days before Djokovic tries to defend his Australian Open crown.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday his government cancelled Djokovic’s visa to protect Australia’s hard-won gains against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected,” Morrison said in a statement.
Djokovic faces deportation again after the Australian government revoked his visa for a second time.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said Friday he used his ministerial discretion to revoke the 34-year-old Serb’s visa on public interest grounds three days before the Australian Open is to begin.
Djokovic’s lawyers are expected to appeal the cancelation in the Federal Circuit and Family Court as they successfully did after the first cancelation.
It is the second time Djokovic’s visa has been canceled since he arrived in Melbourne last week to defend his Australian Open title.
His exemption from a COVID-19 vaccination requirement to compete was approved by the Victoria state government and Tennis Australia, the tournament organizer. That apparently allowed him to receive a visa to travel.
But the Australian Border Force rejected the exemption and canceled his visa upon arrival in Melbourne. He spent four nights in hotel detention before a judge on Monday overturned that decision.