Djokovic free but Australia deportation threat still looms
Melbourne: Novak Djokovic on Tuesday warmed up for his bid to win a record 21st tennis major at next week’s Australian Open, hitting practice shots at Melbourne Park, but he still faces the threat of deportation from the country.
A week after he arrived in Australia, Djokovic finally reached the tennis court after a judge on Monday quashed the federal government’s decision to cancel his visa.
But the world number one could still be detained by the federal government for a second time and deported.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s office said he was still considering whether to use his discretionary power to cancel Djokovic’s visa.
“In line with due process, Minister Hawke will thoroughly consider the matter,” a spokesman said, declining to comment further due to legal reasons.
Australia has a policy barring non-citizens or non-residents from entry unless they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
It allows for medical exemptions but the government argued that Djokovic, who is not vaccinated, did not provide adequate justification for an exemption.
The court ruled Djokovic was treated unfairly by border force officials on his arrival and ordered his visa cancellation be overturned.
It did not, however, address whether his exemption – based on Djokovic contracting COVID-19 last month – was valid.
Djokovic’s plight drew international attention, creating a row between Canberra and Belgrade and fuelling heated debate over mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies.
Public opinion in Australia, which is battling an Omicron wave of infections and where more than 90% of the adult population is double vaccinated, has been largely against the player.