Australia cancels Novak Djokovic’s visa for the second time

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Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates winning against Marin Cilic of Croatia in match 2 of the Davis Cup Semi Final at Madrid Arena on December 3, 2021.
Sanjin Strukic | Pixsell | MB Media | Getty Images

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.

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 and apologized for failing to isolate immediately after contracting Covid in December.

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

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