Novak Djokovic: Australia cancels tennis star’s visa ahead of Australian Open

Updated: Jan 27

Novak Djokovic’s Australian visa has been cancelled again, days before the start of the Australian Open.

The decision follows comments from the prime minister, Scott Morrison, on Thursday that he expects authorities to apply the policies of the government that non-citizen non-residents must be double vaccinated or have an acceptable medical exemption.

On Friday, the Australian immigration minister, Alex Hawke, exercised a personal power to cancel Djokovic’s visa. This is likely to result in the world No 1’s deportation which will put him out of contention for the grand slam tournament.

Djokovic arrived in Australia on the evening of 5 January. He believed that a visa granted on 18 November and an exemption approved by Tennis Australia’s chief medical officer and a Victorian government independent expert panel would be sufficient to enter Australia.

After late-night questioning at Melbourne airport, Djokovic’s visa was initially cancelled by a delegate of the home affairs minister last Thursday, on the basis a recent Covid infection by itself was not sufficient for an exemption from Australia’s strict vaccination requirements.

The delegate concluded that, since he was unvaccinated, Djokovic posed a risk to public health.

But on Monday, a federal circuit court judge reinstated Djokovic’s visa, concluding it was unreasonable for the Australian Border Force to go back on a deal to give him more time at the airport to address the exemption issue.

Government lawyers immediately put the world No 1 on notice that the immigration minister could still exercise a personal power to again cancel the visa.

On Wednesday, Djokovic conceded his agent made an “administrative mistake” when declaring he had not travelled in the two weeks before his flight to Australia and acknowledged an “error of judgment” by not isolating after he tested positive for Covid.

The latest decision to cancel the visa likely leaves the Australian Open without one of its biggest stars and Djokovic – who was seeking a record-breaking 21st grand slam triumph – unable to defend the title he has won nine times.