Novak Djokovic faces deportation after Australia revokes visa again

TENNIS-AUS-OPEN
Getty Images
0 Comments

MELBOURNE, Australia — Novak Djokovic faces deportation again after the Australian government revoked his visa for a second time, the latest twist in the ongoing saga over whether the No. 1-ranked tennis player will be allowed to compete in the Australian Open despite being unvaccinated for COVID-19.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said Friday he used his ministerial discretion to cancel the 34-year-old Serb’s visa on public interest grounds — just three days before play begins at the Australian Open, where Djokovic has won a record nine of his 20 Grand Slam titles.

Djokovic’s lawyers were expected to appeal at the Federal Circuit and Family Court, which they already successfully did last week on procedural grounds after his visa was first canceled when he landed at a Melbourne airport.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women

Deportation from Australia usually leads to a three-year ban on returning to the country. That would make Djokovic 37 the next time he would be allowed to compete at the Australian Open.

Hawke said he canceled the visa on “health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so.” His statement added that Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government “is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Morrison and Hawke are part of a conservative government which prides itself on being tough on border control.

Morrison welcomed Djokovic’s pending deportation, saying Australia had achieved one of the lowest pandemic death rates, strongest economies and highest vaccination rates in the world.

“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.”

Everyone at the Australian Open — including players, their support teams and spectators — is required to be vaccinated for the illness caused by the coronavirus. Djokovic is not inoculated and had sought a medical exemption on the grounds that he had COVID-19 in December.

That exemption was approved by the Victoria state government and Tennis Australia, apparently allowing him to obtain a visa to travel. But the Australian Border Force rejected the exemption and canceled his visa when he landed in Melbourne on Jan. 5.

Djokovic spent four nights in an immigration detention hotel before a judge on Monday overturned that decision. That ruling allowed Djokovic to move freely around Australia and he has been practicing at Melbourne Park to prepare to play in a tournament he has won each of the past three years.

Djokovic has held practice sessions every day since he was released from detention, posting a photo on social media late Monday of himself with his team on Rod Laver Arena.

He had a scheduled mid-afternoon practice booked for Friday on the tournament’s main show court, but switched his times to start and finish early.

Media started gathering at the vehicular entry to the building where Djokovic was reported to be meeting with his lawyers after the minister’s decision was handed down.

With his legal situation still in limbo, Djokovic was placed in the tournament bracket in Thursday’s draw, slated to face Miomir Kecmanovic in an all-Serbian matchup in the first round.

Melbourne-based immigration lawyer Kian Bone said Djokovic’s lawyers face an “extremely difficult” task to get court orders over the weekend to allow their client to play next week.

Speaking hours before Hawke’s decision was announced, Bone said: “If you left it any later than he has done now, I think from a strategic standpoint, he’s really hamstringing Djokovic’s legal team, in terms of what sort of options or remedies he could obtain.”

Djokovic’s lawyers would need to go before a duty judge of the Federal Circuit and Family Court, or a higher judge of the Federal Court, to get two urgent orders. One order would be an injunction preventing his deportation, such as what he won in court last week. The second would force Hawke to grant Djokovic a visa to play.

“That second order is almost not precedented,” Bone said. “Very rarely do the courts order a member of the executive government to grant a visa.”

Jacqui Lambie, an influential independent senator, argued that Djokovic should be sent packing if he had broken Australia’s vaccine rules. But hours before the visa cancellation was announced, she complained about how long Hawke was taking to reach a decision.

“Why does this keep dripping out of the tap? Alex Hawke, where are you? Missing in action?” Lambie asked.

“If you can’t make a decision on Novak Djokovic, goodness me, how are you guys running the country? This is an absolute shambles,” she added.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

In a tie, Wendy Holdener puts to rest a remarkable stat in Alpine skiing

0 Comments

Swiss Wendy Holdener ended one of the most remarkable victory droughts in sports by tying for the win with Swede Anna Swenn Larsson in a World Cup slalom in Killington, Vermont, on Sunday.

Holdener, after 15 second-place finishes and 15 third-place finishes in her career, stood on the top step of a World Cup slalom podium for the first time. She shared it with Swenn Larsson, who had six World Cup slalom podiums before Sunday and also earned her first win.

They beat Austrian Katharina Truppe by .22 of a second combining times from two runs.

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Holdener, 29, previously won three World Cups in other disciplines, plus two world championships in the combined and Olympic and world titles in the team event.

“To be tied first when I came into the finish was such a relief,” Holdener said while shoulder to shoulder with Swenn Larsson. “On the end, it’s perfect, because now we can share our first win together.”

Mikaela Shiffrin had the best first-run time but lost her lead midway through the second run and finished fifth. Shiffrin, who won the first two slaloms this season last weekend, was bidding for a 50th World Cup slalom victory and a sixth win in six slaloms in Killington.

“I fought. I think some spots I got a little bit off my timing, but I was pushing, and that’s slalom,” she said before turning her attention to Holdener and Swenn Larsson. “It’s a pretty special day, actually.”

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves next weekend to Lake Louise, Alberta, with two downhills and a super-G.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Injured Ilia Malinin wins Grand Prix Finland, qualifies for Grand Prix Final

Ilia Malinin
Getty
0 Comments

Ilia Malinin, competing “a little bit injured” this week, still won Grand Prix Finland and goes into the Grand Prix Final in two weeks as the world’s top-ranked male singles skater.

Malinin, who was second after Friday’s short program, landed four clean quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate to overtake Frenchman Kevin Aymoz.

Malinin, who landed a quad flip in competition for the first time, according to SkatingScores.com, also attempted a quad Axel to open his program, but spun out of the landing and put his hand down on the ice.

Malinin also won his previous two starts this season in come-from-behind fashion. The 17-year-old world junior champion became the first skater to land a clean, fully rotated quad Axel in September, then did it again in October at Skate America, where he posted the world’s top overall score this season.

Next, Malinin can become the second-youngest man to win the Grand Prix Final after Russian Yevgeny Plushenko. His biggest competition is likely to be world champion Shoma Uno of Japan, who like Malinin won both of his Grand Prix starts this fall. Malinin and Uno have not gone head-to-head this season.

Grand Prix Finland highlights air on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

FIGURE SKATING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Earlier, Japan’s Mai Mihara overtook world silver medalist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium to become the only woman to win both of her Grand Prix starts this season. Mihara prevailed by .23 of a point. The top three women this season by best total score are Japanese, led by a junior skater, 14-year-old Mao Shimada, who isn’t Olympic age-eligible until 2030.

Mihara and Hendrickx qualified for the Grand Prix Final, joining world champion Kaori Sakamoto and Rinka Watanabe, both of Japan, South Korean Yelim Kim and American Isabeau Levito, the world junior champion.

Italians Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini won both pairs’ programs and qualified for their first Grand Prix Final.

Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara and Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier headline the Final. Both pairs won each of their Grand Prix starts earlier this fall. The Japanese have the world’s two best scores this season. The Americans are reigning world champions.

At least one Russian or Chinese pair made every Grand Prix Final podium — usually pairs from both countries — but neither nation competed in pairs this Grand Prix season. All Russian skaters are banned due to the war in Ukraine. China’s lone entry on the Grand Prix across all disciplines was an ice dance couple.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier improved on their world-leading score for this season in winning the ice dance by 17.03 points over Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker. Both couples qualified for the Grand Prix Final in the absence of all three Olympic medalists this fall.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!