(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.
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.”
The Djokovic decision is a vindictive, political act. An immigration minister with no legal qualifications overruling a federal judge? It smacks of government by opinion poll. Comment https://t.co/nQ7cWc00E1
— Oliver Brown (@oliverbrown_tel) January 14, 2022
Veteran journalist Neil Clark slated the Australian government’s decision as being “well out of order.”
So basically #NovakDjokovic is being prevented from plying his trade because he doesn’t wish to get vaccinated against a virus with an IFR similar to flu & when we know the vaccines don’t prevent transmission, illness or even death. The Oz authorities are well out of order.
— Neil Clark (@NeilClark66) January 14, 2022
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.”
Australia really is a banana republic.
Djokovic deported on the grounds of public health, as if the unvaccinated are lepers.
This is the exercise of arbitrary power overruling a court judgement. Australia has become a nasty, authoritarian state.https://t.co/is4hIqET1X
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) January 14, 2022
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.”
Absolutely disgraceful conduct by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke
Petty & vindictive
Nasty & despicable
Taking days to make decision
Running down clock to make 2nd legal challenge difficult
Playing politics to score cheap political points
— Craig Kelly MP (@CraigKellyMP) January 14, 2022
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.