Novak Djokovic visa hearing scheduled for Sunday morning

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The visa hearing for Novak Djokovic has been set for 9.30am Sunday (10.30pm Saturday UK time).

Djokovic’s lawyers argue his visa has not been cancelled because of the public health risk posed by the unvaccinated player, but because of how he may be perceived by anti-vaxers in the country.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has himself welcomed the prospect of Djokovic’s deportation from Australia, and said: “Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected.”

Novak Djokovic. File pic by Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports
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The tennis star first had his visa revoked on arrival in Melbourne last week

The tennis star first had his visa revoked on arrival in Melbourne last week when his COVID vaccination exemption was questioned.

But he won a court appeal against the cancellation that allowed him to remain in the country.

At the time, the Australian government said it would continue to look at whether he could stay, a decision that was at the discretion of immigration minister Alex Hawke.

Mr Hawke announced on Friday that the Serbian’s visa had been cancelled again, this time on public health grounds.

More on Australia

At a court hearing, Djokovic’s lawyers asked for an injunction to block his removal from the country, saying the reasons behind Mr Hawke’s decision are “patently irrational”.

Djokovic’s lawyers had been pushing for a hearing to take place on Sunday, in the hope of a decision being made before the Australian Open begins.

Novak Djokovic tries to explain ‘mistake’ on Australia entry visa form

Defending men...s champion Serbia...s Novak Djokovic practices on Margaret Court Arena ahead of the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. AP Photo/Mark Baker)
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Djokovic’s lawyers were pushing for a hearing to take place on Sunday

Mr Hawke said on Friday: “Today I exercised my power under section 133C(3) of the Migration Act to cancel the visa held by Mr Novak Djokovic on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so,” he said in a statement.

“The Morrison government is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added, referring to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Djokovic vs Australia: What both sides have said until now

Commenting on the decision, Mr Morrison said Australians have made “many sacrifices” during the pandemic.

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“They rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected,” he added. “The pandemic has been incredibly difficult for every Australian, but we have stuck together and saved lives and livelihoods.

“Our strong border protection policies have kept Australians safe, prior to COVID and now during the pandemic.”

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