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Novak Djokovic faces deportation after Australia revokes his visa again

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Novak Djokovic's visa has been revoked a second time, leaving the world's No. 1 men's tennis player facing deportation ahead of the Australian Open.

Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announced the decision on Friday. 

“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’s statement reads. …

“In making the decision, I carefully considered information provided to me by the Department of Home Affairs, the Australian Border Force and Mr. Djokovic.”

Per the Associated Press, Djokovic's attorneys are expected to appeal the decision with the Federal Circuit and Family Court. The same court granted his appeal when his visa was revoked the first time upon his arrival in Melbourne on Jan. 6. The Australian Open starts on Monday.

An order like this typically comes with a three-year ban from obtaining another visa in Australia. It wasn't immediately clear if the Australian government intended to pursue such a ban

Djokovic admitted to false info on document, not isolating while infected

The decision arrives after Djokovic released a statement on Wednesday acknowledging that his agent mistakenly provided false information on an Australian immigration declaration and admitted to giving an in-person media interview in December while knowingly infected with COVID-19. 

Djokovic was initially granted a medical exemption to Australian Open COVID-19 vaccine requirements by Tennis Australia and the state of Victoria prior to his arrival in Melbourne. The Australian Border Force canceled his visa while he was in transit, declaring that he "failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia." Immigrants are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, barring a medical exemption.

Djokovic was detained in an immigration hotel until Jan. 10, when Judge Anthony Kelly reinstated his visa, overruling the previous decision by federal immigration authorities. Kelly reasoned in his ruling that authorities made their final decision to revoke Djokovic's visa at 7:42 a.m. when they had promised to allow him until 8:30 a.m. to respond to the cancelation. 

Novak Djokovic of Serbia attends a practice session ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 14, 2022. (Photo by MARTIN KEEP/AFP via Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic of Serbia attends a practice session ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 14, 2022. (Photo by MARTIN KEEP/AFP via Getty Images)

Djokovic isn't vaccinated against COVID-19

Since his visa was initially reinstated, it was revealed that Djokovic declared that he isn't vaccinated and tested positive for COVID-19 in December, which he cited as the basis for his medical exemption request

Meanwhile, reports and social media posts have shown that Djokovic traveled from his home country of Serbia to Spain in the two weeks prior to his arrival in Australia, contradicting a declaration on immigration documents that he hadn't traveled the previous 14 days.

In his statement on Wednesday, Djokovic blamed his agent for "ticking the incorrect box" regarding his previous travel.

"On the issue of my travel declaration, this was submitted by my support team on my behalf — as I told immigration officials on my arrival — and my agent sincerely apologizes for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box about my previous travel before coming to Australia. This was a human error and certainly not deliberate.

"We are living in challenging times in a global pandemic and sometimes these mistakes can occur."

Per Reuters, providing false or misleading information on an immigration declaration is an offense carrying a maximum of 12 months in prison and can lead to the cancelation of one's visa.

Djokovic also admitted to giving an in-person interview and sitting for a photoshoot with French media on Dec. 18 while he knew he was infected with COVID-19

“I was asymptomatic and felt good, and I had not received the notification of a positive PCR test result until after that event,” Djokovic wrote, referencing a tennis event in Belgrade. “The next day, on 18 December, I was at my tennis center in Belgrade to fulfill a long-standing commitment for a L’Equipe interview and photoshoot. I canceled all other events except for the L’Equipe interview.

“I felt obliged to go ahead and conduct the L’Equipe interview as I didn’t want to let the journalist down, but did ensure I socially distanced and wore a mask except when my photograph was being taken.

“While I went home after the interview to isolate for the required period, on reflection, this was an error of judgment and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment.”

L’Equipe reported that reporter Franck Ramella and photographer Etienne Garnier were not told before meeting with Djokovic that he was infected with COVID-19.

Djokovic is the world's No. 1 ranked player and a nine-time Australian Open champion. He's tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer with the most career men's grand slams victories at 20.

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