Monday, January 17, 2022

Novak Djokovic detained in Australia ahead of crucial immigration hearing

Djokovic, the world’s top-ranked male tennis player, has twice had his visa revoked by immigration officials because he has not been vaccinated against COVID-19.

The tennis star was interviewed by the Australian Border Force at 8 a.m. local time on Saturday (4 p.m. Friday). In this case, it was agreed between the two sides that the location would remain “unknown” to the public in order to keep the tennis star safe and avoid a “media circus”.

Djokovic is expected to spend Saturday night in pre-immigration custody as his case is being debated in Australia’s Federal Court.

Justice David O’Callaghan, who is presiding over the case in a preliminary hearing on Saturday, said the court would hear detailed oral arguments on Sunday.

If Djokovic’s appeal is successful, that timetable will give him a chance to play in Monday’s Australian Open draw.

However, the tournament has been largely overshadowed by the high-profile saga off the court, pitting one of tennis’ biggest stars against Australia’s government and public health officials.

Djokovic’s visa was revoked for the second time on Friday by Australia’s Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, but the government has agreed not to deport him over the weekend before Djokovic’s case ends.

Djokovic’s lawyer, Nicholas Wood, told the court that the immigration minister had used his personal power to revoke the 34-year-old’s visa, on the grounds that he would “stigate anti-vax sentiment” if he stayed in Australia. Describing it as a “fundamentally different approach” in the government’s argument.

Wood said, “The underlying new argument is not a direct risk to others, it is that Mr. Djokovic will stir up anti-Vax sentiment in Australia, especially in Melbourne, by being here. That’s it. A fundamentally different point of view.” ,” said Wood.

Under current Australian laws, all international arrivals are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 – which Djokovic is not – unless they have a medical exemption.

Djokovic said he was under the impression he could enter because two independent panels involving Tennis Australia and the Victorian state government had given him exemption on the grounds that he was infected with Covid-19 in December. The federal government argued that, under its rules, previous infection with COVID-19 is not a valid reason for exemption.

Djokovic’s legal team challenged Friday’s decision and the case was transferred to the Federal Court of Justice for Australia.

After an emergency hearing on Friday, Judge Kelly ruled that Djokovic must appear for an interview with the Australian Border Force at an undisclosed location.

Kelly orders officers to keep Djokovic in custody and take him to his attorney’s office while his case appears before federal court.

Djokovic’s visa was revoked shortly after his arrival on January 5, but Kelly ruled earlier this week that border officials had revoked his initial visa to enter Australia after he found it “inappropriate”. ” did. The judge then ordered Djokovic to be released from immigration detention.

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