Sports

Australia cancels Novak Djokovic's visa for the second time

Key Points
  • On Monday, Djokovic won a court battle to stay in the country after his visa was initially revoked.
  • The court ruling meant Djokovic's visa remained valid and he was released from detention. But the Australian government has now acted once again.
  • Earlier this week, Djokovic admitted and apologized for failing to isolate immediately after contracting Covid in December.
Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic rests during a training session at Melbourne Park as questions remain over the legal battle regarding his visa to play in the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia, January 14, 2022.
Diego Fedele | via Reuters

Tennis star Novak Djokovic has had his visa canceled once again ahead of the Australian Open as the furor over his Covid-19 vaccination status intensifies.

It comes after Djokovic on Monday won a court battle to stay in the country after his visa was initially revoked. The 34-year-old Serbian national was detained in an immigration facility last week after arriving in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open for what officials said violated the country's strict entry rules that require visitors be vaccinated against Covid.

Monday's court ruling meant Djokovic's visa remained valid and he was released from detention. But the Australian government has now acted once again.

"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," Australia's Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said in a statement on Friday.

Djokovic, a vocal vaccine skeptic aiming for a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title, initially had his passport confiscated on Jan. 5 after customs officials decided he did not have sufficient medical justification for a vaccine exemption.

VIDEO1:4701:47
Tennis star Novak Djokovic is back on the court after an Australian judge revoked his visa cancellation

Djokovic's team of lawyers argued in a court filing Saturday that the tennis player's contraction of Covid-19 — for which he tested positive on Dec. 16 — served as a sufficient vaccine exemption.

But controversy followed when photos emerged from Dec. 17 of Djokovic and several Serbian youth tennis players, unmasked and indoors. Earlier this week, Djokovic admitted breaking Covid isolation rules while positive as well as apologizing for a mistake on his Australian travel declaration.

On Thursday, the tennis star was included in the draw for the Australian Open, which starts Monday, despite uncertainty over his participation.

An Australian court held a preliminary hearing on the visa cancelation on Friday night, with Djokovic's lawyers pushing for the issue to be resolved by Sunday so he can play on Monday. The court ordered Djokovic to be detained from 8 a.m. local time on Saturday.

Djokovic's lawyer, Nicholas Wood, reportedly told the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia that Hawke's decision was "patently irrational."