(CNN) – Australian visa Novak Djokovic It was flipped for a second time, nearly ending the world’s number one tennis player’s ambitions to run the Australian Open and win his record 21st Grand Slam.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announced the decision in a statement Friday, after days of deliberations on the Serbian star’s expulsion from the country.
It is unclear whether Australia will take steps to extradite Djokovic, as his legal team may still appeal the decision.
“Today I exercised my power under section 133c(3) of the Immigration Act to cancel Mr. Novak Djokovic’s visa for reasons of health and order, on the grounds that it is in the public interest to do so,” the statement said.
“In making this decision, I have carefully considered the information provided to me by the Home Office, the Australian Border Force and Mr. Djokovic. The Morrison Government is deeply committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The decision comes four days after a judge ruled that Australian Border Force (ABF) officers were “unreasonable” when they rescinded his initial visa to enter Australia upon his arrival in the country on January 5. The judge ordered Djokovic’s release from an immigration detention center within 30 minutes of the decision.
A new development in the Djokovic case
Friday’s decision is the latest development in a saga that has made global headlines and has put Australia’s Covid-19 and immigration policies under scrutiny.
Under current Australian law, everyone arriving in the country from abroad must be vaccinated against covid-19 – which Djokovic has not – unless they have a medical exemption.
Djokovic said he was under the impression he could enter because two independent teams granted him an exemption on the grounds that he had covid-19 in December. The government argued that a previous infection did not prevent him from being vaccinated.
Despite Monday’s ruling, the immigration minister retained ministerial authority to personally intervene in the case and ultimately have the final say on whether Djokovic will be allowed to stay, although his decision can be appealed.
In his ruling, the judge indicated that if Djokovic was deported, he would be banned from entering Australia for three years. However, this can be avoided in special circumstances.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the minister’s decision to revoke Djokovic’s visa protects the “sacrifices” that Australia has made during the pandemic.
“The pandemic has been very difficult for all Australians, but we have stood together and saved lives and livelihoods,” Morrison said in a statement.
“Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the outcome of those sacrifices to be protected,” he said. And that is what the minister is doing by taking this action today.”
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