Australia canceled tennis star Novak Djokovic’s visa for the second time on Thursday in the ongoing battle of whether he can remain in the country unvaccinated in order to play in the Australian Open on Monday.
The decision was made on the grounds of “health and good order,” which means he could face deportation and a three-year visa ban for the country.
Lawyers representing Djokovic said the decision was “patently irrational,” and that they would be filing an appeal.
Djokovic is slated as number one in men’s tennis. He’s meant to play in the Australian Open, beginning Monday, but visa issues may prevent him from participating.
Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said that he canceled the visa on the basis of public interest. The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, also chimed in, saying that the decision was made following “careful consideration.”
Morrison also alluded to heavy criticism if they allowed Djokovic, who is unvaccinated against Covid, to enter the country. He said that Australians have made many sacrifices due to Covid, and that they “rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected.”
On Saturday morning, Djokovic will meet with immigration officials. Lawyers indicated that he will not officially be deported until his appeal to the ruling was heard, and a final ruling on his visa status was made.
Djokovic has won the Australian Open nine times, and was meant to defend his grand title. If he were to win, it would make him the most successful male tennis player ever, with a record of 21 Gland Slam titles.
The Australian Open has not removed Djokovic from the draw yet. He is set currently to face Miomir Kecmanovic, a fellow Serb, early next week. If he is deported, the slot will probably go to Russian Andrey Rublev.
His visa was revoked for the first time after he arrived to Melbourne for the tournament on January 6.