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Australian court rules for Djokovic but the fight to stay in the country is not over

Supporters of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic rally in the street, in Melbourne

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – Novak Djokovic won a court battle on Monday to stay in Australia to fight the Australian Open after being exempted from stringent coronavirus vaccination rules, but the drama may not be over, with the government seeking to cancel his visa. has threatened. Deport him a second time.

Hours later, the tennis star entered the court and was training, her brother told reporters. Djokovic himself tweeted that he is still planning the match.

Read more: Djokovic in limbo as he fights relegation from Australia

Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly reinstated Djokovic’s visa, which was revoked after his arrival last week after officials said he did not meet the criteria for exemption from a rule that all non-citizens Citizens should be fully vaccinated. Djokovic’s lawyers say that since he recently recovered from COVID-19, he is not required to be vaccinated under Australia’s rules.

The judge ruled that the No. 1 player was not given sufficient time to speak with his lawyers before making a decision and ordered the government to release him within 30 minutes from the Melbourne quarantine hotel where he spent the previous four nights Huh.

But public prosecutor Christopher Tran told the judge that the immigration minister “would consider whether to exercise his personal power of revocation.”

This would mean that the nine-time Australian Open winner and defending champion could face relegation again and miss the tournament that starts on January 17. It can even throw them out of the country for three years.

The back and forth has gripped the world and caused outrage in Australia, where many initially dismissed the news that Djokovic, who has been an outspoken skeptic of vaccines, had to face stricter rules to compete in Melbourne. discount was granted. Many felt the star, who court documents say is not innocent against COVID-19, was being given special treatment as Australians face tough travel and quarantine restrictions .

But when border police stopped him when he arrived, others wept, saying he was being made a scapegoat to face criticism over the Australian government’s recent handling of the pandemic.

Speaking with television network Prava in Belgrade, Serbia, the tennis star’s brother, Jordje Djokovic, described the judge’s decision as a “huge defeat for the Australian authorities”.

“It’s definitely politics, it was all politics,” he said.

He said at one time on Monday that the family was hearing that his brother could still be taken into custody, although he did not provide any details. Later, he confirmed that the tennis player was not in custody.

“Novak is free. He was on the tennis court a while back. He is training,” he said.

The star tweeted a picture of himself standing on a court in the arena where the tournament is hosted.

“I am happy and grateful that the judge reversed the cancellation of my visa. Despite what has happened, I wish to stay to counter @AustralianOpen,” he said in the post.

Djokovic, 34, boarded a plane to Australia last week after receiving an exemption from vaccination rules from Victoria state officials and the organizers of the Australian Open. But upon arrival, federal border officials refused to let her in, saying the exemption was not valid.

The reversal caused some to cry, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s conservative government seeking re-election for a fourth term in elections in May.

While his government was widely praised as the country’s COVID-19 death toll at the start of the pandemic, he has recently loosened some rules, such as the rapid rise in Omicron cases. are. He was criticized for that strategy as well as for the lack of rapid antigen tests and for refusing to make the test available to all for free.

Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal called the controversy “a circus” and said he supported the decision to allow his opponent to play in the upcoming tournament.

Nadal said during an interview with Spain’s Onda Cerro radio on Monday, “Beyond agreeing or not agreeing with Djokovic on a few things, there is no question that Justice has said and said that he should be in the Australian Open.” have the right to participate.”

In Monday’s court hearing, Djokovic’s lawyers argued that his client does not need proof of vaccination because he has evidence that he was infected with the coronavirus last month.

Australian medical authorities have ruled that people who have been infected with COVID-19 within six months may receive a temporary waiver of the vaccination rule.

Judge Kelly said Djokovic had provided officials at Melbourne’s airport a medical exemption granted by Tennis Australia and two medical panels.

“What I’m a little excited about is, what else could this guy do?” Kelly asked Djokovic’s attorney, Nick Wood.

Wood agreed that his client could not do more, noting that transcripts of Djokovic’s interviews with Border Force officers and his own affidavit showed that he had repeatedly told officers that he had Did everything they felt was necessary for them.

Djokovic’s lawyers called the cancellation “seriously illogical”.

But lawyers for Home Affairs Minister Andrews said in their submission that the vaccination waiver could only be granted to travelers who had recovered from a severe bout of COVID-19.

“There is no suggestion that the applicant (Djokovic) had ‘acute major medical illness’ in December” when he tested positive, the written submission said.

But in the end, public prosecutors eventually acknowledged that the decision to revoke his visa before proceeding with Djokovic’s interview in the early hours of Thursday and contacting Tennis Australia or his lawyers was inappropriate.

Djokovic was told at 5:20 a.m. Thursday that he had until 8:30 a.m. to respond to a notice of intent to cancel his visa. Instead his comments were sought at 6:14 am

The decision to cancel his visa was made just an hour later.

Minister Andrews did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But a spokesman for the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alex Hawke acknowledged the court’s decision, which involves the minister’s personal discretion.

“The minister is presently looking into the matter and the process is on,” the spokesperson said.

The virtual hearing crashed several times as a large number of people from all over the world were trying to watch the proceedings.

At one point, an expired court link was apparently hacked and pornography was circulated, The New Daily News website reports.
Djokovic holds 20 Grand Slam singles titles, a men’s record he shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

McGuirk reported from Canberra. Associated Press journalists John Pai and Denis Pasa in Brisbane, Tom Moldoveanu in Melbourne, Dusan Stojanovic in Belgrade, Serbia and Aritz Parra in Madrid contributed to this report.

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