NOVAK Djokovic could be arrested on the tennis court by armed cops if his visa is axed, a former top official has warned.
Novak Djokovic training at Melbourne Park today as questions remain over the legal battle regarding his visaCredit: Reuters
Abul Rizvi, a former Immigration Department Deputy Secretary, warned officers could rock up at the tennis courtCredit: The Project, Ten
Djokovic’s fresh deportation risk comes as a minister mulls whether to again revoke his visa after it was reinstated by a judge.
The anti-vaxxer returned to training in Melbourne on Monday hours after being freed from detention after winning his visa court battle.
But despite a judge ruling the decision to cancel his visa was “unreasonable”, the tennis player could still be booted out of the country by the Aussie government.
The decision on whether to revoke the star’s visa was again delayed today after his team produced “lengthy” submissions supporting his case – but a final call is set to be made on Thursday.
Abul Rizvi, a former Immigration Department Deputy Secretary, claimed officers could rock up at the tennis court to detain Djokovic if his visa is cancelled once again.
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.”
He added: “Taking Mr Djokovic away from the tennis court, most probably in the glare of the world’s media to a detention centre where Mr Djokovic would remain whilst he sought any application for judicial or other review processes.
“There is no easy option here. Cancellation is difficult and not cancelling is difficult.”
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It’s understood the government is still preparing a case to deport Djokovic, with a source telling the Herald Sun letting him stay in Australia could set a “dangerous precedent”.
Mr Rizvi said various ministers and the Prime Minister’s office are looking beyond cancelling the tennis player’s visa purely on character grounds.
He said: “To cancel on character grounds, that sounds a little flimsy to me.
“A more likely consideration is that I understand under Serbian law, a contravention of the health orders can be subject to a jail sentence of up to three years.
“Now the problem there is that Mr Djokovic has not yet been sentenced.
“So the government may well be jumping the gun if it wants to go down a character cancellation route.”
Djokovic returned for a closed practice on Monday, with doors locked and only his support team allowed into Rod Laver Arena.
But Border Force officials are also investigating whether Djokovic falsely claimed he had not visited another country on his application to fly to Oz.
The anti-vaxxer put on his travel declaration that he had not been abroad in the 14 days before landing in Oz – but pictures show him in two different countries within that time period.
On its website, the Home Affairs Department warns that giving “false or misleading information” to the government is “a serious offence” carrying a possible jail term.
“If convicted, the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 12 months,” it says.
Tennis ace Djokovic – who is based in Monte Carlo – 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.
Djokovic was also snapped player football in Marbella, Spain, with his brother Marko and a coach on January 4.
Those dates fall within the 14-day period before the reigning Australian Open champ touched down in Melbourne late on January 5, having flown out from Spain via Dubai.
But on his Australian Travel Declaration – released by the federal court yesterday – Djokovic ticked the box claiming he had NOT travelled before his arrival.
Australian Border Force officials are now investigating whether Djokovic lied on his visa forms.
Djokovic told border officers that Tennis Australia completed the declaration on his behalf, but it was noted by the officer who cancelled his visa that the sporting body would have facilitated that based on information the visa holder provided.
It comes as ministerial powers could be used to again revoke Djokovic’s visa and order his removal from the country, which would result in him being banned for three years.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke could use “personal discretion” to move ahead with another cancellation.
The Aussie government has confirmed Mr Hawke is still considering whether to cancel Djokovic’s visa.
A spokesman said: “In line with due process, Minister Hawke will thoroughly consider the matter.
“As the issue is ongoing, for legal reasons it is inappropriate to comment further.”
Although he still faces being thrown out of Oz, Djokovic has insisted he wants to stay and compete.
The world men’s number one tweeted on Monday: “I’m pleased and grateful that the Judge overturned my visa cancellation.
“Despite all that has happened, I want to stay and try to compete @AustralianOpen I remain focused on that. I flew here to play at one of the most important events we have in front of the amazing fans.
“For now I cannot say more but THANK YOU all for standing with me through all this and encouraging me to stay strong.”
Novak Djokovic rests at Melbourne Park during training ahead of a decision on his visaCredit: Reuters