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(LifeSiteNews) – Australia has once more canceled Novak Djokovic’s visa, meaning that the tennis star will now be ordered to leave the country only days before attempting to defend his title at the Australian Open. 

January 14, Australia’s immigration minister Alex Hawke overruled a Monday court decision which had ordered Djokovic to be released from isolation and granted him permission to stay in the country.

Exercising a personal power, Hawke canceled Djokovic’s visa saying that it was “in the public interest to do so.”

Hawke’s statement reads:

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.

This decision followed orders by the Federal Circuit and Family Court on 10 January 2022, quashing a prior cancellation decision on procedural fairness grounds.

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

The Morrison Government is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I thank the officers of the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Border Force who work every day to serve Australia’s interests in increasingly challenging operational environments.

Djokovic has previously voiced his opposition to the COVID-19 vaccination and mandates, including travel mandates. He revealed his inclination not to take the jab back in April as part of a Facebook Live video with fellow Serbian athletes, saying, “Personally I am opposed to vaccination and I wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel.”

He is appealing the latest visa cancelation in court, with lawyers currently arguing to keep the tennis star in the country and able to play in the tournament which starts Monday. 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison defended Hawke’s move, which comes four days after the Federal Court Circuit ruled that Djokovic could stay in the country. “Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected,” said  Morrison. “This is what the Minister is doing in taking this action today.”

Djokovic’s lawyer, Nick Wood SC, described the decision as “patently irrational,” since it was not based on Djokovic being a threat to anyone’s health, but out of governmental fear that the athlete’s presence would “excite anti-vaxer sentiment.”

“The present set of reasons is starkly different,” said Wood. “The minister assumes in Mr Djokovic’s favour every single fact that might have been in issue previously, that he’s complied with the law, that he poses only a negligible risk to others, Mr Djokovic has a medical reason not to be vaccinated, and that Mr Djokovic is of good standing.”

The decision has prompted stern criticism across the globe. Sports writer Oliver Brown of The Telegraph has called it a “vindictive, political act.”

Veteran journalist Neil Clark slated the Australian government’s decision as being “well out of order.” 

Former Brexit party leader Nigel Farage, who has supported Djokovic’s case, defended the athlete once more, saying that he was being treated like a “leper” at the hands of a “banana republic.”

Australian Member of Parliament and leader of the United Australia Party, Craig Kelly also weighed in on his government’s “Playing politics to score cheap political points.”

After landing in the country Wednesday, January 5, to defend his title at the Australian Open (beginning January 17), Djokovic was held by border guards who alleged a discrepancy in his visa application. The Serbian star had already been granted a medical exemption on December 30 to the COVID jab requirement allowing him to participate Open, after he received a positive COVID test on December 16.

He was then released from forced isolation January 10 after Judge Kelly said the “rules were not observed” when Djokovic’s visa had been originally canceled.

Djokovic holds a diplomatic passport from his native Serbia, which should secure him “adequate treatment” when travelling, but Australian officials have signalled that it will not confer him any special treatment in this instance since he is not entering the country on official business.

This story is developing.