‘THE STAKES HAVE NOW RISEN’: Aus Gov warned against ‘petty’ move

The Australian government may well ban Novak Djokovic for three years, but it risks committing a “massive own goal” if it does.

On Monday afternoon, Judge Anthony Kelly read out a minute agreed to by both Djokovic and the government, which ordered the government to pay Djokovic’s costs and release him from detention within 30 minutes.

Government lawyer Christopher Tran then indicated the federal Minister for Immigration and Migrant Services, Alex Hawke, would consider whether to use his “personal power of cancellation” to cancel Djokovic’s visa again.

That scenario would come with an additional, significant consequence: it could entail banning the world No. 1 from Australia for three years.

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Judge Kelly noted: “The stakes have now risen, rather than receded.”

All indications are that the Australian government will follow through on its intention to detain Djokovic and evict him.

Australians reacted with surprise to the sensational verdict on Monday, with many arguing the Federal government is now in a lose-lose situation.

The overwhelming consensus was that the government will appear “vindictive” if it deports Djokovic and cause a “massive own goal” even if he is allowed to compete in the Australian Open.

The Australian’s Jacquelin Magnay tweeted: “Looks vindictive internationally if Australia revokes his visa again, but it will play strongly to Australians, where the unvaccinated have been demonised for months (for not supporting the public good) Aust has 90pc vax rates.”

Sports reporter Phil Lutton said: “Would it not now look petty and vindictive for the Federal Government to evict the world number one after he just won an appeal?

“Surely that’s an even bigger PR disaster for them than issuing a visa in the first place?”

While it appears likely he will be detained again soon after being released from hotel detention in Melbourne, pundits believe the sight of Djokovic playing at the Australian Open for a fortnight would reflect poorly on the government.

The Guardian’s Nino Bucci said: “Imagine cancelling Djokovic’s visa again and the soon-to-be best player of all time can’t play at your grand slam for three years. Or imagine not cancelling and having him rub it in your face for three weeks. Could say the Djok’s on the government.”

Political reporter Josh Taylor said: “I can’t see a way out of the Djokovic thing that doesn’t result in a massive own goal for the government. Entirely of their own creation too.”

Tennis writer Ben Rothenberg suggested the Serbian should make his way to a Melbourne Park practice court as soon as possible to make it “awkward” for the government to detain him again.

“If I were Djokovic I would get to an #AusOpen practice court *immediately*,” he said. “Take pictures of yourself being there and already part of the tournament so that — optically if nothing else — your participation looks like a done deal. Makes it more awkward for government to redetain.”

Australian doubles champion Rennae Stubbs told The Project the entire saga doesn’t reflect well on the Australian government.

“It is an extraordinary moment not only in sports internationally, but Australian sports, and really it doesn’t shine a great light on the Australian government, on the procedures that we’ve had to deal with through the last 12 months, really, between the states and the federal government and it’s really outshone itself in this argument,” she said.

If the 20-time grand slam champion is evicted from Australia, it could well mean Djokovic never competes again at the Australian Open again, where he is a nine-time winner.

A three-year ban on entering Australia would extend to January 2025, by which time the 34-year-old may have retired or could be well into the twilight of his career.

Stubbs said a decision by the Immigration Minister to cancel Djokovic’s visa again would be “extraordinary” and could make it difficult for him to add to his grand slam titles going forward.

“That would be an extraordinary one,” she said.

“Honestly, I think that he (the Immigration Minister) has to be really careful.

“In the next 3-4 hours we will see what the Minister does with this decision, because he does pose a threat to Novak of not being able to come back to Australia for that amount of time and that could really threaten his grand slam total going forward, because he has at least another 3-4 years of good tennis left in him or great tennis left in him.

“It doesn’t shine so brightly on the Australian federal government right now after this decision today.”

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