Tennis star Novak Djokovic may have played his last Australian Open match after he was ejected from the country following his visa cancellation, according to the home affairs minister.
The unvaccinated world No.1 flew out of the country on Sunday night, after the Federal Court ruled against Djokovic’s bid to secure a visa.
His visa to enter the country for the Australian Open was cancelled by Alex Hawke on Friday, using discretionary powers as immigration minister.
Such a cancellation means Djokovic will be banned from reapplying for another visa for three years.
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said Djokovic may have potentially played his last match at the Australian Open.
“It’s a matter or him to consider … but a three-year exclusion could apply,” she told Sky News on Monday.
“(The exclusion) can be waived in compelling circumstances, but it’s not a matter for today or tomorrow but some time in the future.”
However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Djokovic may be able to return to the country under the right circumstances.
Mr Morrison said the rules were clear surrounding entry to Australia, which needed to be enforced.
“The border principle is important and we were going to hold that line and it was effective,” he told 2GB.
“This is someone who sought to come to Australia and not comply with entry rules. We have always been consistent and strong and very effective in maintaining the integrity of borders.”
The prime minister said Djokovic did not have a valid medical exemption to enter the country for the Australian Open, which starts on Monday.
Djokovic was using a previous COVID-19 infection as a reason for a medical exemption not to be vaccinated, and while it was approved by a Victorian government and Tennis Australia panel, it was not valid in the view of the federal government.
“Djokovic was wrong, it’s as simple as that,” Mr Morrison said.
Ms Andrews said if Djokovic wanted to return to Australia, he would need to demonstrate convincing reasons to re-enter during the three-year ban.
“Any applicant would need to go through the process, it doesn’t matter if you’re Novak Djokovic or anyone else … it’s not a straight forward process,” she said.
“The saga could have been avoided if Novak Djokovic was vaccinated.”
Following the court’s decision, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said the situation had been a farce, and accused Australia of a witch hunt against Djokovic.
Labor home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally said while the opposition welcomed the decision to deport Djokovic, the government had “bungled” the situation.
“Anyone could have seen this crisis coming. The Australian Open was not a secret event,” she told ABC TV.
“Novak Djokovic, a known anti-vax proponent declared he wanted to come to Australia and yet the Morrison government did nothing.
“This has been a monumental bungle at our borders by the Morrison government. They want to run around and pat themselves on the back about it. They deserve a kick up the backside.”
Djokovic has been replaced in the draw by Italian Salvatore Caruso.
The Australian Open will begin on Monday morning.