Novak Djokovic facing prospect of extraordinary three-year ban

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·Sports Reporter
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Novak Djokovic could be risking being banned from Australia for as long as three years, legal experts have warned ahead of him challenging his visa cancellation in court. (Photo by TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic could be risking being banned from Australia for as long as three years, legal experts have warned ahead of him challenging his visa cancellation in court. (Photo by TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images)

A legal expert has warned Novak Djokovic faces the possibility of being banned from Australia for as many as three years if his visa controversy is handled incorrectly.

Djokovic announced he would be travelling to Melbourne via social media on Tuesday evening, telling followers he had obtained an 'exemption permission' in order to travel and compete.

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This exemption had been obtained via separate processes from the Victorian State government and Tennis Australia, but crucially, he had not satisfied federal government requirements for entry.

After months spent refusing to say whether or not he had been vaccinated, it is now widely believed the 34-year-old is not vaccinated, and that his efforts to obtain a medical exemption were based on him having contracted Covid-19 within the last six months.

Djokovic is expected to launch a challenge to his cancelled visa in the Federal Court.

Originally expected to have court documents filed at 4pm, the Serbian world No.1's case was adjourned until 6pm on Thursday, with a further hearing slated for Monday.

Legal experts believe the challenge comes with a high risk for Djokovic, with his travel not just to Australia but elsewhere in the world likely to be disrupted if he is deported from Australia for attempting to enter on an incorrect visa.

University of Sydney Professor of Public Law, Mary Crock, told NCA Newswire that Djokovic's legal challenge was fraught with danger, saying it was unlikely his case would stand up in court.

"The law on this is very weighted in favour of the government of the day," Professor Crock said.

"Conversely, if you apply for the wrong visa, the discretion to be granted another visa at the point of entry is very limited.

"And if a visa has been cancelled, the consequences of that are very long term – both for Australia and any other country he enters, because you are always asked 'have you been deported or excluded'.

"If he's deported from Australia, there's a potential he could be excluded for three years."

Media and members of the local Serbian community, pictured here outside a hotel where Novak Djokovic is reported to be staying in Melbourne.
Media and members of the local Serbian community wait outside a hotel where Novak Djokovic is reported to be staying in Melbourne. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)

Major public backlash after Novak Djokovic's arrival for Australian Open

Djokovic touched down in Melbourne on Wednesday but the mix-up saw him whisked away to a room under police guard, while officials tried to clear up his situation.

The 34-year-old's father Srdjan told the Serbian B92 internet portal: "Novak is currently in a room which no one can enter. In front of the room are two policemen."

Djokovic was still awaiting permission to enter the country with his team reportedly having applied for a visa that does not allow for medical exemptions.

The 34-year-old, never a stranger to controversy, has found himself the subject of a major public backlash in Australia after revealing on Tuesday that he'd received the vaccination exemption which allowed him to bid for a record 21st major title.

But amid the storm, tournament director and Tennis Australia (TA) boss Craig Tiley insisted the world No.1 was getting no special treatment and Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the player "would be on the next plane home" if he could not provide the proper evidence for his exemption.

Reports have suggested Novak Djokovic could travel back to Serbia, obtain the correct Australian visa, then return to compete in the Australian Open. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Reports have suggested Novak Djokovic could travel back to Serbia, obtain the correct Australian visa, then return to compete in the Australian Open. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

But Djokovic was embroiled in entry problems as Victoria's Sports Minister Jaala Pulford confirmed the state government did not support his visa application, effectively putting his fate in the hands of the federal government.

The Age newspaper said the federal Border Force had contacted the Victoria state government asking if it would support his application after his team applied for the wrong kind of visa.

Pulford said in a tweet: "The Federal Government has asked if we will support Novak Djokovic's visa application to enter Australia.

"We will not be providing Novak Djokovic with individual visa application support to participate in the 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam."

It was not clear whether the federal government would allow his entry and the Border Force could not be reached for comment.

With agencies

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