MELBOURNE, Australia — Tennis star Novak Djokovic faces deportation again after the Australian government revoked his visa for a second time.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke says he used his ministerial discretion to revoke the 34-year-old Serb's visa on public interest grounds three days before the Australian Open begins.
At a court hearing Friday, officials said Djokovic would not be detained or deported overnight but would have to attend a meeting with his lawyers and immigration officials in Melbourne on Saturday morning.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed Djokovic's pending deportation.
"This pandemic has been incredibly difficult for every Australian but we have stuck together and saved lives and livelihoods. ... Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected," Morrison said in a statement. "This is what the Minister is doing in taking this action today."
The decision caps a tumultuous week for the world's top-ranked tennis player. Djokovic arrived in Melbourne late last week, and officials immediately revoked his visa because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19. He was detained in a hotel, but not deported.
Four days later, a court reinstated Djokovic's visa on the grounds that Tennis Australia had granted him an exemption because of a recent COVID-19 infection.
Amid swirling accusations about the timeline of his infection, Djokovic released a statement on Instagram Wednesday admitting that he had conducted an interview with a French newspaper just two days after testing positive for the virus, something that he admitted was an "error."
Djokovic has been outspoken in his opposition to the COVID-19 vaccine and vaccinations in general. According to the BBC, in April 2020, Djokovic told fans that he was "opposed to vaccination." The outlet also reports that he's pushed dubious scientific claims throughout his career.
Djokovic hopes to defend his title at the Australian Open and win a men's record 21st Grand Slam singles title. He won three of the four Grand Slam titles in 2021 before being upset by Daniil Medvedev in the U.S. Open final in the fall.
The Australian Open is slated to begin on Monday. Djokovic is still scheduled to play fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in a first-round match.