Minister weighs up Djokovic visa decision

Paul Osborne, Andrew Brown and Alex Mitchell |

Novak Djokovic is still in the dark as to whether he will be deported just days ahead his attendance at the Australian Open.

The unvaccinated tennis star landed in Australia a week ago only to be detained by border officials.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Thursday that Immigration Minister Alex Hawke was still considering the use of discretionary powers to cancel the visa after considering evidence provided by Djokovic’s lawyers on the matter.

“These are personal ministerial powers able to be exercised by minister Hawke and I don’t propose to make any further comment at this time,” Mr Morrison said.

The prime minister was asked if unvaccinated non-citizens were a public health threat, and should keep a visa if they’d been allowed in.

Mr Morrison emphasised Australia’s policy that a visa holder must be double-vaccinated or show acceptable proof they cannot be vaccinated to enter quarantine-free.

“That is the policy and we would expect authorities to be implementing the policy of the government when it comes to those matters,” he said.

Mr Morrison also stressed there was a difference between being granted a visa and border entry requirements.

The prime minister’s remarks came after the grand slam’s draw was mysteriously postponed “until further notice” just minutes before it was due to begin at around 3pm.

A YouTube stream set to broadcast the draw had already started, but was then taken down.

The draw was then rescheduled for 4.15pm, where Djokovic drew fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic for his first-round match.

Australian Border Force officials cancelled the world No.1’s visa for entering the country while unvaccinated, only for the cancellation to be later quashed by a federal court.

Djokovic’s lawyers have provided lengthy submissions and supporting documentation to the minister.

Officials looked into potential discrepancies on Djokovic’s declaration form, which stated the tennis star did not travel out of the country in the two weeks before his flight to Australia.

Djokovic was filmed playing tennis in Serbia on Christmas Day and was later seen training in Spain on December 31, both in the two-week window.

However, Djokovic has denied he was trying to mislead the government on the form, stating an agent had made an “administrative mistake” while filling out the form.

In a statement posted to social media, the Serbian player also admitted to attending a media interview in Belgrade when he knew he had COVID.

After carrying out a PCR test on December 16, Djokovic attended the interview two days later.

“I felt obliged to go ahead and conduct the interview as I didn’t want to let the journalist down, but did ensure I socially distanced and wore a mask except when my photograph was being taken,” Djokovic wrote.

“While I went home after the interview to isolate for the required period, upon reflection, this was an error of judgement and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment.”

Since he was freed from immigration detention on Monday, Djokovic has been training at Melbourne Park.

The 34-year-old is looking to win a record 21st Grand Slam title when the Australian Open begins on Monday.

The decision came as Spanish radio reported Djokovic was being investigated over entering the European country without proper authorisation.

Since late September, Serbian citizens required a vaccine certificate or special exemption to enter Spanish territory, but it is unclear what steps Djokovic took in seeking entry.