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Sunday, November 27, 2022

Australia has revoked Novak Djokovic’s visa for a second time

It was the latest dizzying volley in a drawn-out storey that began with Novak Djokovic’s reluctance to get immunised against the Covid-19 virus. On Friday, the Australian authorities cancelled the Serbian tennis star’s visa for a second time.

It was in the public interest, said Australia’s immigration minister, Alex Hawke, in a statement, that Djokovic’s visa be revoked on the basis of “health and good order.” He added that it was in the interest of the country to do so.

Four days before, Djokovic had won a court win that allowed him to be released from immigration detention, where he had been confined since landing at Melbourne International Airport last week. Hawke initiated the move in response to that victory.

There were no other information provided by the minister concerning his decision to withdraw the visa, other than to state that the Australian government was dedicated to safeguarding the country’s borders during the epidemic.

Three days before the start of the Australian Open, there was no way of knowing what would take place next. However, legal experts believe that Djokovic’s chances of victory are slim despite winning his first round in court on limited procedural grounds. Djokovic might return to court to seek an overturning of the verdict.

A legal expert at the University of Sydney, Mary Crock, said it would be “very, very difficult” for Djokovic to win an appeal in this situation. “The standards of natural justice and process do not apply,” she said emphatically in her statement. As a result, the only way he might win an appeal would be to demonstrate that there was no public-interest justification for cancelling the visa in the first place.

Djokovic supplied fraudulent information on the paperwork he presented to border officers when he attempted to enter the nation last week, according to the findings of a federal inquiry conducted by Hawke.

That information was missing from the records, which neglected to mention that Djokovic, who resides in Monte Carlo, had travelled between Serbia and Spain during the 14 days leading up to his arrival in Melbourne, Australia.

In a message on social media on Wednesday, Djokovic acknowledged the errors and responded to inquiries regarding his actions in the days leading up to and after his positive coronavirus test on December 16. That test result enabled him to get an exemption from state health inspectors in Victoria, allowing him to compete in the Australian Open in the following year.

Both a desperate plea for mercy and an explanation for reckless conduct by a great athlete who is used to being held accountable, Djokovic’s comments seemed like a plea for understanding. During the course of filling out his papers, he claimed that a member of his support staff committed a “human mistake.” Additionally, he admitted that he made a terrible mistake by agreeing to an in-person interview and picture session with a French sports journal after testing positive for the coronavirus.

This week, Franck Ramella, a sports writer for the French sports publication L’Equipe, reported that when he conducted the interview with Djokovic on December 18, he was unaware that the tennis player had just recently tested positive for the coronavirus.

Djokovic said that he was unaware that he had tested positive for doping when he attended a tennis event in Belgrade, the Serbian capital, on December 17 and gave medals to young athletes. However, according to the record of his positive test, he took the test at 1:05 p.m. on December 16 and got the positive result seven hours later.

Earlier this week, it looked like Djokovic might be able to do this, despite the fact that he would most certainly be the only player in the men’s competition who had not been vaccinated. On Thursday, he was named the No. 1 seed in the men’s bracket, a position he has held since.

In a ruling handed down on Monday afternoon, a judge determined that Djokovic had been treated unfairly upon his arrival late on Jan. 5 at a Melbourne airport, where he was interrogated for hours and denied the opportunity to communicate with his lawyers or Australian Open officials as had previously been promised.

This decision freed him from the detention facility for refugees and asylum seekers where he had been kept for five days and cleared the way for him to participate for his record-tying 21st Grand Slam tournament victory, according to the court.

Authorities from the Australian Tennis Federation had given Djokovic permission to participate in the event, which starts on Monday in Melbourne. They had done so after consulting with state officials. Border officers, with the cooperation of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, revoked Djokovic’s visa, claiming that he was still subject to the requirement that everyone entering the nation be completely vaccinated, which applies to everyone entering the country.

Rather than putting the issue to rest, the court redirected its attention to Djokovic’s supporting papers, the validity of his coronavirus test, and fundamental concerns about when Djokovic learned of his illness and what he did about it.

Hawke, the immigration minister, has the legal authority to revoke a visa based on a person’s character, if he discovers that records are incorrect, or if he considers that the visa’s holder presents a health or safety danger. Hawke made his choice at a time when Australia is experiencing its greatest outbreak of the coronavirus in decades.

Dan O'Brien
I am a journalist for The National Era with an emphasis in sports.
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