Australian officials have made a decision that could put Novak Djokovic out of the Australian Open before it begins. The Serbian star's visa has been canceled for a second time, this time by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke on "public interest" grounds, the BBC reports. The unvaccinated Djokovic was refused entry due to visa issues with the vaccination exemption on Jan. 6. After days in an immigration hotel, a judge reinstated his visa Monday and he was released. Hawke said Friday that he had revoked Djokovic's visa "on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so."
Djokovic could now face deportation and other sanctions including a three-year ban on entering Australia. He still has the option of appealing, as he did the first time his visa was revoked, but the timing of Hawke's order means he may be unable to defend his title at the Australian Open, which begins Monday. The order was issued Friday evening local time and Djokovic would have to obtain two court orders over the weekend to be able to play, the AP reports. Immigration lawyer Kian Bone says that while Djokovic might be able to delay deportation, it would be almost unprecedented for a court to order Hawke to grant Djokovic a visa.
The timing of the decision, Bone says, is "really hamstringing Djokovic’s legal team." Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed the move. "Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected," he said in a statement. "This is what the minister is doing in taking this action today." (Djokovic admitted Wednesday that he knew he had tested positive for COVID before he attended a newspaper interview last month.)