Novak Djokovic was reported to be back in immigration detention on Saturday after his legal challenge to avoid being deported from Australia because of COVID-19 was transferred to the High Court.
The men’s No. 1 ranked tennis player and nine-time Australian Open champion’s title defense is set to come up for hearing in federal courts on Sunday, a day before the start of the year’s first Grand Slam tennis tournament.
Police closed a street behind the building where Djokovic’s lawyer lives and two vehicles exited the building in the middle of the afternoon local time on Saturday. In television footage, Djokovic can be seen wearing a face mask in the back of a vehicle near an immigration detention hotel.
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The Australian Associated Press reported that Djokovic was back in custody. He spent four nights at a hotel near downtown Melbourne before being released last Monday, when he won a court challenge on procedural grounds against the cancellation of his first visa.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke on Friday blocked the 34-year-old Serb’s visa, which was originally revoked when he landed at Melbourne airport on January 5.
Returning to the country from exile from Australia could result in a three-year ban, although this may be waived depending on the circumstances.
Djokovic has admitted that his travel announcement was incorrect as it failed to indicate that he had been to several countries for two weeks before arriving in Australia.
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But the false travel information is not why Hawke decided to deport Djokovic, it was in the public interest.
His lawyers filed documents in court on Saturday that revealed Hawke had said “Djokovic is seen by some as a talisman of an anti-vaccination community.”
Australia has one of the most vaccinated populations in the world, with 89% of people aged 16 and over being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
But the minister said Djokovic’s presence in Australia could be a threat to the health and “good order” of the Australian public. Their presence “could be counterproductive to vaccination efforts by others in Australia,” the minister said.
The Department of Health advised that Djokovic had a “low” risk of contracting COVID-19 at the Australian Open and a “very low” risk of spreading the disease.
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The minister cited Djokovic’s comments in April 2020, before the COVID-19 vaccine was available, that he was “opposed to vaccination.”
Djokovic had “previously stated that he didn’t want to be forced by anyone to get vaccinated” in order to compete in the tournament.
The minister wrote in his reasons for revoking Djokovic’s visa, saying the evidence “makes it clear that he has publicly expressed anti-vaccination sentiment.”
Djokovic’s lawyers argue that the minister provided no evidence that Djokovic’s presence in Australia “could fuel anti-vaccination sentiment.”
Djokovic will be allowed to visit his lawyers’ office on Sunday for a video court hearing.
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On Saturday, Justice David O’Callaghan suggested a full bench instead of a single judge hearing the case on Sunday. A full bench consists of three or five judges.
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A full bench would mean that any decision would be less likely to be appealed. The sole method of appeal shall be the High Court and there shall be no guarantee that that Court will also agree to hear such appeal.
Djokovic’s lawyer, Paul Holdenson, opted for a full bench, while Hawke’s lawyer, Stephen Lloyd, preferred a single judge.
Legal observers suspect Lloyd will want to keep the option of another federal court appeal open because he thinks ministers can file a stronger case without rushing to reach a verdict before Monday.
Chief Justice James Allsop will decide how many judges will hear the case.
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On Saturday, the case was extended from Federal Circuit and Family Court to Federal Court. But the number of judges who will hear the case from 9.30 am on Sunday is yet to be decided.
Djokovic has won the last three Australian Opens, which is part of his Grand Slam total of 20 championships. He is tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer by most one person in history.
In a post on social media on Wednesday that formed his most widely public comments on the episode, Djokovic blamed his agent for checking the wrong box on the form, calling it “a human error and certainly not intentional.” ” said.
In the same post, Djokovic said he proceeded with an interview and a photo shoot with a French newspaper in Serbia, despite learning that he had tested positive for COVID-19 two days earlier . Djokovic says a positive test taken on December 16 is trying to use to justify a medical exemption that would allow him to meet the vaccine requirement on the grounds that he already has COVID- was 19.
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Revoking Djokovic’s visa, Hawke said Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government is “strongly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Morrison himself welcomed the pending deportation of Djokovic. The episode has touched a nerve in Australia, and particularly in the state of Victoria, where locals went through hundreds of days of lockdown during the worst of the pandemic.
Australia is facing a huge surge in virus cases driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant. On Friday, the nation reported 130,000 new cases, including nearly 35,000 in the state of Victoria. Although many infected people are not getting as sick as they were in previous outbreaks, the increase is putting serious strain on the health system, with more than 4,400 people hospitalized. It has also disrupted workplaces and supply chains.
“This pandemic has been incredibly difficult for every Australian, but we have stuck together and saved lives and livelihoods. … Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they look forward to protecting the outcome of those sacrifices,” Morrison said on Friday. “This is what ministers are doing today in taking this action.”
Supporters of Djokovic in Serbia are disappointed at the cancellation of their visas.
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The Australian Open requires vaccination for everyone, including players, their support teams and spectators. Djokovic has not been vaccinated.
His exemption was approved by the Victoria State Government and Tennis Australia, apparently allowing him to obtain a visa to travel. But the Australian Border Force rejected the exemption and revoked his visa upon landing in the country.
Djokovic spent four nights at an immigration detention hotel before a judge overturned that decision. That decision allowed him to move freely around Australia and he is practicing daily at Melbourne Park.
“It’s not a good situation for anyone,” said Andy Murray, three-time Grand Slam champion and five-time Australian Open runner-up. “Looks like it’s been dragged on for quite a long time.”
No Vaccine Means No Access: Tennis Champion Novak Djokovic Fights Deportation From Australia
According to Grand Slam rules, if Djokovic is forced to pull out of the tournament before the order of the day’s play is announced, No. 5 seed Andre Rublev will move to Djokovic’s place in the bracket.
If Djokovic withdraws from the tournament after Monday’s schedule is released, he is referred to as the “lucky loser” on the field – a player who loses in a qualifying tournament but is out of action before the competition. This leads to the main draw. has started.
And if Djokovic plays in one match – or more – and is then told he can no longer participate in the tournament, his next opponent will simply move on to the next round and there will be no replacement.
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