'Boot him out': Government 'preparing case' to deport Novak Djokovic

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·Sports Editor
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  • Novak Djokovic
    Novak Djokovic
    Serbian tennis player
Novak Djokovic, pictured here during a practice session at Melbourne Park.
Alex Hawke is still considering whether or not to deport Novak Djokovic. Image: AAP/Getty

The Australian government is reportedly 'preparing a case' to deport Novak Djokovic over discrepancies in the tennis star's arrival in Australia.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has again delayed a decision on whether to use discretionary powers to cancel the World No.1's visa, as he considers evidence provided by Djokovic's lawyers on the matter.

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Australian Border Force officials cancelled Djokovic's visa last week for entering the country while unvaccinated, only for the cancellation to be later quashed by a federal court.

But one week later, uncertainty remains about whether the tennis star will still be allowed to stay in the country.

A spokesperson for Mr Hawke revealed on Wednesday that Djokovic's lawyers have provided extra documentation in his defence.

"Mr Djokovic's lawyers have recently provided lengthy further submissions and supporting documentation said to be relevant to the possible cancellation of Mr Djokovic's visa," a statement said.

"Naturally, this will affect the timeframe for a decision."

Novak Djokovic, pictured here during a practice session ahead of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park.
Novak Djokovic hits during a practice session ahead of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)

According to an explosive report in the Herald Sun, immigration officials are leaning towards deporting Djokovic.

The publication quoted an unnamed government source that said allowing Djokovic to stay in the country would set a “dangerous precedent”.

The source claims the government is willing to cop international backlash if Djokovic is deported, but feels it is necessary to uphold the national interest.

Veteran political journalist Paul Bongiorno backed up the reports on Wednesday night, tweeting: "I am hearing Alex Hawke will boot out the Joker tomorrow."

'Murmurings' of government deal with Novak Djokovic

Djokovic is looking at the prospect of being banned from Australia for three years if he has his visa cancelled.

But Brett Phillips of SEN said there were "murmurings" that the government might try to strike a deal with Djokovic.

“There are some murmurings that they might try to strike a deal with Djokovic, where they say, ‘Listen, depart this year, leave Australia and we won’t enforce the three year ban’," Phillips said.

“(The three-year ban) is something they can do obviously when they revoke a visa.

“There’s some views on the incorrect details on filling out the border form yesterday, it’s not the worst case scenario in some people’s eyes.”

However Phillips predicted more court proceedings if Djokovic had his visa cancelled again.

“There’s a bit more to play out, even if the Immigration Minister says we’re going to revoke your visa it’ll go back to court,” Phillips said.

“There’s still a lot to play out here, whether he plays in the Australian Open, I don’t know.

“The draw comes out tomorrow night, the seedings have been placed yesterday, so there needs to be some call on this.”

Discrepancies in Novak Djokovic's arrival in Australia

Officials are looking 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.

The controversy surrounding the decision over whether Djokovic could still be deported comes just four days before the start of the Australian Open.

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.

with AAP

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