With just three days to go before world tennis star Novak Djokovic defends his title at the Australian Open, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke is again canceling his visa on “grounds of health and good order, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so.”
Hawke personally exercised his ministerial powers and added: “In making this decision I have carefully considered the information provided to me by the Department of Home Affairs, the Australian Border Force and Mr. Djokovic,” ABC News quoted him as saying on Jan. 14.
He also alluded to Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison: “The Morrison government is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, especially in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
From this fact, the pressure on Djokovic’s legal team could not be greater, given that next Jan. 17, i.e., in three days, he should take to the courts to compete against his rivals at the Australian Open, for which he is the number one seed.
In this regard, Djokovic’s lawyer, Nick Wood, noted his concern about the impact of this new setback because of the short time available.
“As things stand, Mr. Djokovic could be scheduled to play Monday night or Tuesday night…in those circumstances, we are very concerned about the timing,” Wood shared.
For its part, the court system has responded swiftly to the extent that Judge Anthony Kelly of the Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne signaled the possibility of granting an injunction to prevent Djokovic’s immediate removal from Australia.
Although Djokovic arrived in Australia nine days ago, his tribulations over his pandemic vaccination status have not ceased.
Two independent Australian panels granted him a waiver because he had tested positive for the test, yet Border Force officials detained him, and his visa was revoked hours later.
This was followed by a judicial reprieve overturning the cancellation of his entry visa, in what appeared to be a definitive triumph for the tennis player but was not.
It is now hoped that the legal process can be taken care of during Saturday and Sunday. Otherwise, there would be no chance for Djokovic to participate in the major world tennis event on Monday.
“I don’t want to be critical. The position we find ourselves in today is the product of having received the reasons for the decision shortly after 18:00 on a Friday. More than four days after the original decision was made,” said attorney Wood.
He added: “We are where we are because of the time the Minister has taken. We are moving as fast as we can.”
Djokovic’s lawyers should seek an immediate court order allowing him to stay and play in the first round of the tournament, which would be followed by an expedited trial next week.
In any case, if this legal recourse does not proceed, he will be immediately expelled from the country.