(MELBOURNE) — Australian authorities canceled tennis star Novak Djokovic’s visa on Friday, casting doubt on his participation in the Australian Open.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, who announced his decision around 6 p.m. local time, said the Australian government “is strongly committed to protecting Australia’s borders”.
“Today I exercised my authority under Section 133C(3) of the Migration Act to cancel the visa held by Mr. Novak Djokovic for reasons of health and good order, on the grounds that ‘it was in the public interest to do so,’ Hawke said in a statement.
Hawke’s decision came days after an Australian court reinstated the 34-year-old’s visa, which had been granted with a medical exemption from Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine requirements.
Officials questioned whether Djokovic met the conditions for that exemption, but Judge Anthony Kelly sided with the tennis star, noting that Djokovic’s medical exemption was provided with input from a “doctor eminently qualified”.
“And the point that I’m a little agitated about is, ‘What more could this man have done?'” the judge said on Monday.
However, questions persisted over whether Djokovic had lied on his travel declaration form. Every traveler arriving in Australia must submit the document before entering the country.
The issue related to the few weeks before Djokovic landed in Australia on January 5 from Spain via Dubai. Under Australia’s pandemic measures, the tennis star would have had to stay in Spain for at least 14 days before travelling.
Djokovic on his registration form ticked the box indicating that he had not traveled during this period. Social media seemed to tell a different story, with at least one post suggesting Djokovic had been in Serbia for those 14 days.
Hawke told ABC News on Wednesday: “Mr. Djokovic’s lawyers recently provided lengthy additional submissions and supporting documents deemed relevant to the possible cancellation of Mr. Djokovic’s visa. Naturally, this will affect the decision time.
The Australian Open starts on January 17. Djokovic has won the tournament for the past three years and nine times in total.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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