Novak Djokovic is set to be detained on Saturday after Australia cancelled his visa for a second time, in a row over his right to remain in the country unvaccinated.
The decision on “health and good order” grounds means he faces deportation and a three-year visa ban. Djokovic’s lawyers called the decision “patently irrational” and will appeal. The men’s tennis number one is still scheduled to play in the Australian Open in Melbourne on Monday.
“Today I exercised my power… 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,” Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said in a statement. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the decision followed “careful consideration”.
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Alluding to the heavy criticism his government has faced for allowing the unvaccinated player into Australia, Mr Morrison said: “Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected.”
At an emergency late-night court hearing shortly after the decision was announced on Friday, Judge Anthony Kelly ruled that Djokovic cannot be deported while the appeal proceedings are happening. An appeal hearing is expected on Sunday.
The judge also said the government could detain Djokovic after he meets immigration officials in Melbourne on Saturday morning. However, he will be allowed to go to his lawyers’ offices to prepare his case ahead of Sunday’s hearing.