Novak Djokovic’s effort to play in the Australian Open despite being unvaccinated for COVID-19 moved to a higher court Saturday as the No. 1-ranked tennis player appealed the second cancellation of his visa. Djokovic was not seen on the online feed available to the public for the 15-minute procedural hearing, which began just two days before he is scheduled to play his first match of 2022 at Melbourne Park.
Judge David O’Callaghan ruled that lawyers representing Djokovic and the government would need to submit written arguments later Saturday, and he scheduled another hearing for Sunday morning.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke blocked the 34-year-old Serb’s visa, which was originally revoked when he landed at a Melbourne airport last week. But it was restored Monday by a judge on procedural grounds because Djokovic was not allowed to have a lawyer with him at the airport.
Deportation from Australia can lead to a three-year ban on returning to the country, although that may be waived, depending on the circumstances.
Djokovic has acknowledged that his travel declaration was incorrect because it failed to indicate that he had been in multiple countries over the two weeks before his arrival in Australia.
He has a record nine Australian Open titles, including the past three in a row, part of his overall Grand Slam haul of 20 championships. He is tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer for the most by a man in history.
In a post on social media Wednesday that constituted his most extensive public comments yet the episode, Djokovic blamed his agent for checking the wrong box on the form, calling it “a human error and certainly not deliberate.”
Double-fault: Visa revoked again, Djokovic faces deportation Associated Press