The Australian Government has cancelled Novak Djokovic’s visa for a second time, saying the world tennis No. 1, who is unvaccinated for COVID-19, may pose a risk to the community. The following story is drawn from reporting in the Telegraph.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used discretionary powers to again cancel Djokovic’s visa. Here is his statement in full:
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 Jan 10th, 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 interest in increasingly challenging operational environments.
Novak Djokovic arrived in Melbourne airport on January 5th claiming a vaccine exemption because of a positive PCR test result on December 16th. Border agents rejected his exemption, saying a recent infection was an insufficient justification, cancelled his visa and placed him in a detention centre. Djokovic went to court and a judge overturned the visa decision on procedural grounds because border officials at the airport failed to give him the agreed time to respond.
However, on the day of his claimed positive test in Serbia, he is known to have attended a ceremony to honour him with stamps bearing his image. The next day he attended a youth tennis event, not wearing a mask at either event. He has also admitted to a mistake on his Australian travel declaration, in which a box was ticked indicating that he had not, or would not, travel in the 14 days before flying to Melbourne. Social media posts and reports show him flying from Serbia to Spain during that period.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said the sacrifices made by Australians during the pandemic must be respected.
The pandemic has been incredibly difficult for every Australian but we have stuck together and saved lives and livelihoods. Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected.
This statement shows how political and emotive the subject is for Australians who have suffered for nearly two years under a failed Zero Covid strategy that is currently collapsing spectacularly as a huge Omicron wave sweeps the country. People who have given up and suffered so much will be highly intolerant of those whose behaviour implies their sacrifice was in vain or are seen as free-riders.
An online poll by News Corp found that 83% favoured the Government trying to deport the player.
Immigration lawyer Kian Bone has said Djokovic’s lawyers face an “extremely difficult” task as they aim to make it possible for him to be able to play in the Australian Open next week. His legal team would need to go before a judge to get two urgent orders before he could compete. From the Telegraph:
One order would be an injunction preventing his deportation, like the order he gained last week, while the second would order Immigration Minister Alex Hawke to grant Djokovic a visa to play.
“For Djokovic to get the outcomes he needs to play would be extremely difficult to obtain over the weekend,” Mr Bone said.
Minister Hawke’s delay in reaching a decision on Djokovic’s visa bordered on punitive, he added.
“If you left it any later than he has done now, I think from a strategic standpoint he’s (Hawke’s) really hamstringing Djokovic’s legal team, in terms of what sort of options or remedies he could obtain,” Mr Bone said hours before the decision was announced.
“That second order is almost not precedented,” Mr Bone said. “Very rarely do the courts order a member of the Executive Government to grant a visa.”
Djokovic has been asked to attend an interview with immigration officials on Saturday. His legal team has asked for an injunction preventing his removal from Australia.
One thing this episode shows is how much lockdowns and vaccine mandates have twisted once reasonable and liberal people into scarred, traumatised people unable to respect fairness and autonomy because of what they have been made to endure by the authorities. It’s very tragic – and as Australia bans the world’s best tennis player from the country because he isn’t vaccinated against a cold he’s already had and which is anyway running rampant through the population, everybody loses.