Australia denies Djokovic's visa yet again

By Mark Angelo Mañez

PHOTO: The New York Post

MANILA — Australia's federal government on Friday has denied world no. 1 Novak Djokovic's visa yet again, as his unvaccinated status may pose a threat to the Australian community.

With the Australian Open nearing its launch this Monday, Djokovic raised prospects of a second court battle that will allow him to stay and bring his bid for a record 21st major title going.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke exercised his powers to deny Djokovic entry a second time after a court retracted a first revocation earlier in the week and was released from immigration detention.

The top seed and defending Australian Open champion was due to face fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic on opening day next week.

"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," Hawke said in a statement.

He also ensured the government's firm commitment in protecting Australia's borders, particularly with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Hawke also made careful consideration of the information he gathered from Djokovic, the Department of Home Affairs, and the Australian Border Force (ABF).

Djokovic won't be able to secure a visa to Australia for a three-year period, except for circumstances that affect Australia's interest. 

The saga also ignited debates over rights of choice on vaccines, raised serious questions over Australia's bungled handling of Djokovic's visa, and became a tricky issue for Prime Minister Scott Morrison's re-election bid.

A vaccine skeptic, the tennis star fueled widespread fury all across Australia after last week's announcement of heading to the tournament with a medical exemption to requirements for visitors to be inoculated against the virus.

With a 90% vaccination rate among adults, Australia has endured some of the most serious lockdowns, and has seen a runaway Omicron outbreak for almost two weeks with nearly a million cases in that period.

Upon arrival, Djokovic was held alongside asylum-seekers at an immigration detention hotel for several days by Australian Border Force officials deciding his cause was deemed invalid.

Australian Border Force officials "unreasonably" handled his interview in the middle of the night which lasted seven hours, which had the local court earlier in the week deciding that he be allowed to stay on such grounds 

Djokovic's cause didn't help with a crucial mistake in his entry declaration in relation to overseas travel two weeks prior and attributing it to his agent. He further acknowledged that he should have rescheduled his interview and photoshoot with a French newspaper while infected with COVID-19 last Dec. 18.

An online poll conducted by Australian media group News Corporation also found out that 83% of its respondents favored the government's efforts in trying to deport the Serbian tennis star.

“Absolutely, he should go. He hasn’t done the right thing and is being a bit cheeky about it,” said Melbourne resident Venus Virgin Tomarz.



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