Australia revokes Djokovic’s visa, tennis star faces deportation

tennis star Novak Djokovik Australia is facing possible deportation after the country’s immigration minister made a decision on Friday cancel his visa for the second time,

the decision is latest twist in a saga who made global headlines and became Flashpoint in debate over Covid-19 vaccination mandate, It could end the Serb’s bid for a record 21st major title at the Australian Open tournament starting Monday.

Djokovic’s lawyers could go back to court to apply for an injunction that would prevent him from being forced to leave the country. If that fails he may be unable to re-apply for an Australian visa for three years.

In a decision likely to have broad sporting and diplomatic consequences, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said in a statement on Friday that he had used his discretionary powers to revoke visas “on the grounds that it was in the public interest to do so.” “

Hawke said the government was “strongly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, especially in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Djokovic, 34, had an Australian visa reinstated Earlier this week a judge ordered that he be released from immigration detention.

Unvaccinated men’s tennis No. 1 revoked visas last week after border officials rejected his claim for a medical exemption upon arrival in Melbourne. But Djokovic won a legal appeal that allowed him to remain and practice in the country while the threat of deportation was on his head.

NBC News has contacted representatives for Djokovic for comment.

Novak Djokovic during a practice session in Melbourne on Friday.Martin Keep/AFP – Getty Images

Djokovic accepted on Wednesday that he made a false statement on his travel form to arrive in Australia and failed to isolate immediately after testing positive covid in Serbia last month, adding to scrutiny from Australian authorities and the world’s media.

The country’s strict border rules require that all non-Australian arrivals to enter the country must be vaccinated. All Australian Open players, staff, officials and fans are also required to be fully vaccinated to enter the tournament venue.

Earlier this week the court confirmed that the tennis star had not been vaccinated, but Djokovic argued that he received medical exemption to enter the country because he was diagnosed with Covid-19 in Serbia last month and has since He was fine.

Djokovic spent four days immigration detention among asylum seekers and undocumented migrants as he awaits a decision on his visa appeal. The court’s decision on Monday did not decide whether his reason for the medical exemption was valid.

Tournament organizers still entered Djokovic in draw He remained in limbo on Thursday, though it was delayed amid uncertainty.

The top seed continued to train at Rod Laver Arena as he sought to focus on tennis and his bid to become the all-time leader in the men’s Grand Slam singles title.

The saga surrounding Djokovic has angered many Australians, as omicron The variant sparked a new wave of cases in the country after months Strict restrictions on the movement of the public.

Excitement Government restrictions to fight the pandemic have rocked the tennis world and headed for the Australian Open, thrusting the sport at the center of a global debate.

It has also garnered strong support for Djokovic. in his native Serbia, where his family and the country’s leaders criticized Australia’s treatment of the national sporting icon.