Tennis’ number one men’s player Novak Djokovic has lost his court application against deportation from Australia, a Federal Court announced on Sunday afternoon local time.
The controversial tennis superstar had his Australian visa canceled for the second time on Friday in a government decision.
The Friday decision was taken by federal Immigration Minister Alex Hawke who used discretionary powers to overturn an earlier court ruling. Hawke argued that the Djokovic, who has chosen not to be vaccinated against COVID-19, may pose a danger to the public. Djokovic was given leave to apply to the court to review the executive decision.
The court dismissed the application to review the ministerial decision, and said that costs apply. The ruling was the unanimous decision of the three judges, it said.
The court then gave Djokovic’s legal team a further 30 minutes to make representations. After that, the court may issue further orders.
Djokovic is in Melbourne to play at the Australian Open, the first grand slam tournament of the year. Earlier on Sunday, it was announced that his first round match had been scheduled for Monday evening local time.
On his arrival in the country, on Jan. 6, 2022, Djokovic was detained by border forces. Authorities later canceled his visa, arguing that Djokovic did not meet the entry requirements. Djokovic was held for four nights in immigration detention pending his appeal to the courts.
In the first case, Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly examined documents presented by Djokovic’s lawyers. These included a medical exemption certificate issued by a professor and an exemption granted to him by an expert panel in Victoria state.
Later, however, it emerged that Djokovic had incorrectly filled out one of the forms on his visa application, misstated his travel history, and broken self-quarantine rules by giving an in-person interview to a French journalist on Dec. 18, 2021, shortly after Djokovic had tested positive for the disease.
On Sunday, Chief Justice James Allsop made it clear that the case was not an appeal against Hawke’s decision, rather it was a test of whether Hawke’s decision was unlawful, irrational or legally unreasonable. Djokovic’s lawyers failed to prove it was any of those things, and so Hawke’s decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa stands. The court said it would publish its reasoning at a later date.
Following the decision, Djokovic released a statement expressing his disappointment and compliance.
“I am extremely disappointed with the Court ruling to dismiss my application for judicial review of the Minister’s decision to cancel my visa, which means I cannot stay in Australia and participate in the Australian Open. I respect the Court’s ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country,” the statement said. He also thanked friends, fans and fellow Serbians for their support.
Minister Hawke also issued a statement. “I welcome today’s unanimous decision by the Full Federal Court of Australia upholding my decision to exercise my power under the Migration Act to cancel Mr Novak Djokovic’s visa in the public interest.
“Australia’s strong border protection policies have kept us safe during the pandemic, resulting in one of the lowest death rates, strongest economic recoveries and highest vaccination rates in the world.
“Strong border protection policies are also fundamental to safeguarding Australia’s social cohesion which continues to strengthen despite the pandemic.”