Djokovic to appeal visa cancellation for second time

An Australian judge has temporarily halted an attempt to have tennis star Novak Djokovic deported.

Novak Djokovic in Melbourne.

In a late night court hearing, lawyers for Djokovic have confirmed they intend to appeal, with the court bartering a pause on plans to deport him in the interim.

His legal team are appealing a second attempt to make Djokovic leave Melbourne, in an ongoing fight just days before the start of the Australian Open.

The appeal will be heard again on Sunday morning, and will be transferred to the Federal Court of Australia.

Earlier on Friday evening, Australia’s Immigration Minister Alex Hawke exercised his power to personally cancel the visa on “health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so.”

In a statement, Minister Hawke said the government was “firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Read more: Novak Djokovic has Australian visa cancelled days out from Aus Open

Late on Friday night, in a hearing in Melbourne, Judge Anthony Kelly of the Federal Circuit Court was told that Djokovic has not yet been formally detained.

More than 55,000 people watched the livestream as Judge Kelly told the court that Djokovic has been invited to an interview with immigration officials on Saturday morning.

After that meeting, Djokovic will likely be detained.

A formal injunction wasn’t required, as lawyers for Australia’s Immigration Minister said they wouldn’t deport the athlete until after the final decision.

Lawyers for Djokovic appeared prepared for the second cancellation attempt, and expressed concerns about how quickly the case could be heard.

Nick Wood SC said the athlete was in an “extraordinary situation” and expressed frustration that the decision had been made late on Friday.

“We’re very concerned about time.”

Mr Wood said the Minister had only considered the “exciting anti-vax sentiment” if Djokovic was allowed to stay in Australia, and not the negative impacts of deporting him.

Djokovic’s visa has been in dispute as he is not vaccinated, a requirement for most people travelling into Australia. The world No.1 provided evidence he’d already tested positive for the virus late last year, arguing this meant he should be granted a medical exemption.

Djokovic was detained upon arrival in Melbourne with his visa cancelled hours later.

While he successfully appealed that decision, the Immigration Minister made the call to cancel it for a second time on Friday night.

If the tennis player’s visa is formally cancelled, and his appeal is unsuccessful, he will be deported and could be blocked from being granted a visa for the next three years.