WELLINGTON, New Zealand ( Associated Press) – When Australian immigration officials denied tennis star Novak Djokovic’s medical exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement and revoked his Australian visa, he created a storm of influence, bureaucratic, politically and legally. done.
The world’s top male tennis player held four meetings between asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants at a dowry Melbourne immigration detention hotel before Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly upheld his appeal and ordered his release and visa reinstated. Spent the day
Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke must now make a politically charged decision whether to use his authority to overturn a judge’s decision.
First, a better class of housing. When the judge ruled in his favor on Monday, Djokovic was immediately released from Melbourne’s Park Hotel to join his team in an up-market apartment for the rest of his Australian stay.
Djokovic quickly left for Melbourne Park, the venue of the Australian Open, for a late night training session. He also trained on Tuesday, suggesting that his sights are still firmly on his bid for a 21st Grand Slam singles title.
Its not clear yet. Immigration Minister Hawke has postponed until Wednesday his decision to revoke the visa of an unvaccinated tennis star on public health grounds under Australia’s Migration Act.
A Hawk spokesman said: “Continuing due process, Minister Hawke will consider the matter thoroughly. As this issue is ongoing, it would not be appropriate to comment further for legal reasons.”
Another issue under investigation is whether Djokovic may have filled out his travel entry form incorrectly when he ticked a box to indicate that he had not traveled in the 14 days before his arrival in Australia on 6 January. Had it. In fact, Djokovic had traveled to Spain to train in that period.
What did the court say?
Perhaps the key to the whole matter and the hardest question to answer is whether Djokovic has a valid claim for medical exemption for entering Australia without vaccination.
Tennis Australia, the state government of Victoria and the federal government have differing views.
Before moving to Australia, Djokovic was concerned about the status of his vaccinations. When border officials interviewed him at Melbourne airport early Thursday, they admitted he was not.
His application for a medical exemption to the rule that all non-Australian arrivals must be vaccinated was based on his claim that he tested positive for COVID-19 on 16 December.
Djokovic was exempted from vaccination to play at the Australian Open by a medical panel set up by Tennis Australia and the Victorian government. Djokovic’s lawyers argued that he had every reason to believe the same standard applied to the border.
The Australian Border Force was not satisfied with the documents provided by Djokovic at Melbourne airport and canceled his visa. Judge Kelly found that Border Force should have given Djokovic more time to settle his documents before proceeding with the interview, which resulted in his visa being revoked.
“The decision to go ahead with the interview and revoke that visa … was unfair,” he said.
What about Djokovic’s COVID-19 case?
Djokovic welcomed the court’s decision. During his four days of immigration detention, he only tweeted once to thank his fans for their support.
In the early hours of Tuesday, he tweeted again to express his gratitude that the court had upheld his case.
“I am happy and grateful that the judge overturned my visa cancellation,” Djokovic said. “Despite what has happened, I want to stop and try to compete (at the Australian Open). I stay focused on that. I’m here to play one of the most important events in front of amazing fans.”
Questions still remain regarding Djokovic’s recent positive test. He had a PCR test on 16 December and he got a positive result that night.
Since then photos and videos have shown a masked Djokovic attending public events, including a junior tennis awards ceremony in Belgrade after he tested positive. Serbia’s COVID-19 protocol required him to isolate for 11 days.
What role does politics play?
Djokovic arrived in Melbourne as he suffered a record daily number of COVID-19 cases. The numbers were also increasing across Australia due to the Omicron version.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government was facing criticism for easing some virus restrictions as Omicron cases began to rise and rapid antigen tests were not readily available.
Morrison had little to say when Tennis Australia and the Victorian government upheld Djokovic’s application for a medical exemption. But when Djokovic’s visa was revoked, he hurried to take a decision, sensing public approval.
He tweeted “rules are rules” and reiterated in interviews in the following days. At first it seemed a definite political victory.
Australia’s strict border controls during most of the pandemic separated families by preventing Australians living overseas from returning home. The possibility that one of the world’s most highly received athletes and major vaccine skeptics might get special treatment at the border, one Morrison’s face could not have.
Melbourne residents also have reason to decline special treatment for Djokovic. Melbourne has been one of the world’s most closed cities as residents spent 256 days under strict restrictions during various COVID-19 waves.
But as Djokovic languished among asylum seekers in Melbourne, the attitude may have softened. And since the judge ruled against the government’s lawyers, there is anger that Australia’s image has been tarnished by Djokovic’s poor handling of the case.