Novak Djokovic's legal team will immediately launch a fresh legal appeal if Australian authorities attempt to deport him, according to reports
Lawyers representing tennis star Novak Djokovic will launch an appeal in the event that Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke opts to revoke his visa as the Serb's staredown with the country's authorities continues.
Per a report by Australian publication The Age, Hawke is closely inspecting documents submitted by Djokvoic's team ahead of a legal reckoning which could provide definitive clarity as to the world number one tennis player's ability to defend his Australian Open title later this month.
It is understood that Hawke's determination, which is expected on Friday, could lead to a legal quagmire if it is found that Djokovic had no basis to be granted a visa amid the country's strict immigration guidelines, and that the timing required to launch appeal could in effect rule him out of the tournament which begins next week.
However, lawyers for Djokovic are said to believe that they could fast-track the process by shortening their written and verbal evidence and if the matter goes to court, they would seek a final decision by Sunday which would allow him to play his opening match unimpeded by legal dispute.
Reports from Australia indicate though that Hawke and the governing Liberal Party are presently leaning towards canceling Djokovic's visa as the dispute threatens to overshadow the first Grand Slam event of 2022.
There had been speculation that an announcement as to Djokovic's eligibility to compete was forthcoming ahead of Thursday's draw when it was delayed by more than an hour past its scheduled 3pm (local time) start but following a cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Scott Morrison did not make any announcements in a nationally televised press conference.
He stated that he would not be commenting on Djokovic as the matter was still being processed by Hawke, but did reiterate that unvaccinated foreigners are currently not permitted to enter Australia without valid medical exemptions.
They must "show they are double vaccinated or must provide acceptable proof that they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons... that is the policy. That policy hasn't changed," he said.
"We would expect authorities to be implementing the policy of the government when it comes to those matters. That relates to people who are coming to Australia. These are non-citizens, non-residents."
Morrison also stated that acquiring a visa and proving vaccination status at the border are two separate matters.
The nine-time champion was eventually paired with fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic in the draw.
Djokovic's legal standoff with Australian authorities has taken several twists in recent days. The Serb was forced into an apology when he admitted to breaking restrictions in his home country shortly after testing for Covid-19.
Djokovic also confirmed there had been incorrect information on his Australian travel declaration, which was filled out by an agent on his behalf.
Djokovic's legal row has taken place while Australia has seen a rapid rise in Covid-19 cases. A month ago, the country was recording around 1,200 cases per day - but that has exploded to nearly 39,000 as of Wednesday as the highly-transmissible Omicron variant spreads - something which has prompted Australian Open officials to announce a cap on attendance at the tournament.
Australia's opposition Labour Party, meanwhile, has condemned Morrison's handling of the affair.
"How is it that a... visa was granted in the first place?" Anthony Albanese said of the saga. "This has been diabolical for Australia's reputation, just in terms of our competence here, and it is extraordinary that - as we are speaking - we still don't know what the decision will be.
"The decision should have been made before he was granted a visa. Either he was eligible or he wasn't."