Novak Djokovic's visa has been denied for the second time, putting the world number one tennis player in danger of deportation ahead of the Australian Open.
According to the Australian authorities, Djokovic who is not immunized against COVID-19 may constitute a risk to the community. Alex Hawke, Australia's Immigration Minister, announced the decision on Friday.
Hawke used his discretionary powers to cancel Djokovic's visa following a court ruling on Monday that invalidated an earlier revocation and released him from immigration detention.
The judgment opens the door to a second court battle for the Serbian tennis great to be permitted to stay and compete for a record 21st major tennis title at the Australian Open, but time is running out with the tournament beginning on Monday.
The controversy has heightened global discussion about vaccine choice and has become a thorny subject for Prime Minister Scott Morrison's reelection campaign.
Australia is scheduled to conduct elections in May, and while Morrison's government has garnered domestic support for its stern stance on border security, it has not spared criticism over the poor processing of Djokovic's visa application.
The Age newspaper in Melbourne reported that Djokovic will immediately protest any attempt at deportation in court, with a judgment due on Friday and tournament organizers formulating contingency arrangements for a new draw in case.
The judgment comes on the heels of Djokovic's statement on Wednesday, in which he admitted to providing false information on an Australian immigration declaration and to conducting an in-person media interview in December while knowingly infected with COVID-19.
Tennis Australia initially granted Djokovic a medical exemption from the Australian Open COVID-19 vaccine regulations prior to his arrival in Melbourne on Jan. 6.
While he was in route, the Australian Border Force canceled his visa, claiming that he "failed to present acceptable proof to meet Australia's entry requirements." Unless a medical exception is granted, all immigrants must be completely vaccinated against COVID-19.
Djokovic, the defending Australian Open winner, was seeded first and was scheduled to open against fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic on Monday or Tuesday.
Australia has suffered some of the world's longest lockdowns, has a 90% vaccination coverage among adults, and has witnessed nearly a million cases of Omicron in the previous two weeks due to a runaway outbreak.
Meanwhile, an online poll conducted by News Corp indicated that 83% of respondents supported the government's attempt to deport the tennis star.