TENNIS star Novak Djokovic could be banned from Australia for three years after facing deportation over his vaccination status.
Then 34-year-old’s visa has been revoked for a second time, though he can still launch another legal challenge to remain in the country.
The men’s tennis number one was scheduled to play in the Australian Open, which begins on Monday and for which he is the number one seed.
The decision is the latest dramatic twist in the saga over over anti-vaxxer Djokovic’s jab status, which saw his visa revoked when first landed Down Under.
His representatives have already launched an appeal after Immigration Minister Alex Hawke revoked his visa.
With any appeal underway it would allow Djokovic to remain in the country and take part in the competition.
But if he loses and is deported then he would banned from Australia for three years.
Djokovic was first sent to a detention hotel to face deportation before a judge set him free, only for Aussie Immigration Minister Alex Hawke to now use his powers revoke his visa.
There is, however, likely to be further drama and the door remains open for him to play in the tournament.
Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used his powers to revoke Djokovic’s visa after a court quashed an earlier revocation and released him from immigration detention on Monday.
He said the decision was made on the grounds of “health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so”.
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The government “is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Hawke added.
Despite the ruling, Djokovic still has a chance of being able to play in the tournament, immigration expert Abdul Rizvi has said.
He can win the appeal and also ask a judge for what’s known as a bridging visa, which would allow him to work in Australia, he explained.
“Playing tennis, some people may not regard it as work, but it is Mr Djokovic’s job,” said Mr Rizvi, a former Immigration Department Deputy Secretary.
“If he thinks there is merit in Mr Djokovic’s argument, it makes sense to release him on a bridging visa while the appeal is considered,” he added.
In the meantime Djokovic now faces being arrested by armed cops, he has said.
Mr Rizvi told Channel 10’s The Project: “The cancellation notice (would be) taken by Australian Border Force (officers) who usually dress in very, very dark uniforms and often carry guns turning up to Mr Djokovic’s hotel or on the tennis court.”
Melbourne-based immigration lawyer Kian Bone said Djokovic’s lawyers faced an extremely difficult task to get court orders over the weekend to allow their client to play next week.
“For Djokovic to get the outcomes he needs to play would be extremely difficult to obtain over the weekend”, Bone said.
Djokovic’s visa was first revoked shortly after his arrival in Melbourne on 6 January.
Australian border Force officials said he had “failed to provide appropriate evidence” to receive a vaccine exemption.
The star spent hours a the airport and then spent days at an immigration hotel.
He also faced a backlash from the Australian public, who have lived under some of the world’s longest and strictest lockdowns during the pandemic.
Cricket legend Shane Warne was among those calling for Djokovic to be deported.
“Novak is a great tennis player & one of the all time greats,” Warne tweeted.
No doubt. But he’s lied on entry forms, been out in public when he knew he had Covid & is now facing legal cases.
“He’s entitled to not be jabbed but Oz is entitled to throw him out! Agree?”
Days later his visa was reinstated by a judge who ruled that border officials ignored correct procedure when he arrived.
In the meantime it emerged the Monte Carlo-based star had incorrectly said on his immigration declaration he hadn’t visited any other countries within14 days of arriving in Melbourne.
In fact he was filmed playing tennis in the streets of the Serbian capital Belgrade on December 25.
A picture shared on Twitter also shows him beaming beside handball player Petar Djordjic in Belgrade the same day.
Then days later, the 34-year-old was reportedly filmed training in Spain on December 31 and posing for a group photograph the same day.
That has led to speculation the incorrect information could lead to him facing jail.
Applicants are warned on the form: “Note: Giving false or misleading information is a serious offence. You may also be liable to a civil penalty for giving false or misleading information.”