Australia rejected the visa of Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic for a second time Friday, something that could keep the world’s top-ranked men’s tennis player from the Australian Open and likely prompt a second trip to court.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said in a statement that he canceled Djokovic’s visa “on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement, “This 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.”
Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said Friday the policy settings of the government overall were “crystal clear.” He said on Channel 9’s Today show, “That is that people who enter Australia who are not Australian citizens should be double dose vaccinated unless they have a clear and valid medical exemption against that.”
About 90% of Australian adults are vaccinated after enduring long lockdowns to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Djokovic’s vaccine skepticism has met with widespread anger.
Hawke canceled Djokovic’s visa over concerns about the Serbian’s medical exemption from Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination rules. Djokovic’s visa was first canceled upon arrival in Melbourne last week when his vaccination exemption was rejected.
After being held with other asylum-seekers at an immigration detention hotel for several days, Djokovic won a legal dispute on procedural grounds that allowed him to remain in the country.
Djokovic acknowledged earlier this week that errors were made on his entry documents about his activities in the weeks before traveling to Australia.
The Serbian star issued a statement Wednesday saying his assistants had incorrectly declared that he had not traveled anywhere in the 14 days before departing for Melbourne last week. Reports have surfaced showing he traveled to Serbia and Spain.
Djokovic also said he did not know he tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 16 until the next day, after he appeared at a tennis event in Belgrade to present awards to children.
He also acknowledged that he should have canceled a planned magazine interview and photoshoot the day after learning of his status.
The defending champion was included Thursday in the Australian Open draw as the top seed for the tournament that opens Monday.
Djokovic drew unseeded fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic for his opening match that is expected to take place Monday or Tuesday.
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.