Novak Djokovic Back in Detention as He Continues to Fight Deportation

MELBOURNE, Australia — Novak Djokovic was again in immigration detention Saturday after his authorized problem to keep away from being deported from Australia for being unvaccinated for COVID-19 was moved to increased court docket.

A Federal Courtroom listening to has been scheduled for Sunday, a day earlier than the lads’s No. 1-ranked tennis participant and nine-time Australian Open champion was as a result of start his title protection on the first Grand Slam tennis match of the yr.

Djokovic and his attorneys had a morning assembly with immigration officers and, by mid-afternoon, Australian media reported the tennis star was taken again into detention. Tv footage confirmed the 34-year-old Serb carrying a face masks as he sat in a automobile close to an immigration detention lodge.
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He spent 4 nights confined to a lodge close to downtown Melbourne earlier than being launched final Monday when he received a court docket problem on procedural grounds in opposition to his first visa cancellation.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke on Friday blocked the visa, which was initially revoked when he landed at a Melbourne airport on Jan. 5.

Deportation from Australia can result in a three-year ban on returning to the nation, though which may be waived, relying on the circumstances.

Djokovic has acknowledged that his journey declaration was incorrect as a result of it failed to point that he’d been in a number of international locations within the two-week interval earlier than his arrival in Australia.

However that wasn’t why Hawke determined that deporting Djokovic was within the public curiosity.

Legal professionals for Djokovic filed paperwork in court docket that exposed Hawke had acknowledged that the tennis star “is perceived by some as a talisman of a group of anti-vaccination sentiment.”

Australia has one of many highest COVID-19 vaccination charges on the planet.

However the minister stated Djokovic’s presence in Australia could also be a threat to the well being and “good order” of the Australian public and “could also be counterproductive to efforts at vaccination by others in Australia.”

The Well being Division suggested that Djokovic was a “low” threat of transmitting COVID-19 and a “very low” threat of transmitting the illness on the Australian Open.”

The minister cited feedback Djokovic made in April 2020 that he was “against vaccination” and had wouldn’t wish to be pressured by somebody to take a vaccine to compete.

Djokovic’s attorneys argued that the minister had cited no proof that Djokovic’s presence in Australia could “foster anti-vaccination sentiment.”

Lots of of activists held a peaceable rally outdoors the Melbourne Park complicated that hosts the Australian Open, and deliberate one other for Monday.

“We’re at Rod Laver Enviornment to help Novak. He’s received 9 (Australian Open) titles right here. Hopefully this will probably be No. 10 — if he can get out of quarantine and get his visa again,” Harrison McLean, one of many rally organizers, stated. “We’re a peaceable motion, right here to lift consciousness and help everybody’s freedom of alternative.”

On Saturday, Federal Chief Justice James Allsop introduced that he would hear the case with Justices David O’Callaghan and Anthony Besanko.

The choice for 3 judges to listen to the enchantment as a substitute of a single choose elevates the significance of the case from the judiciary’s perspective and means any verdict could be much less prone to be appealed.

Sydney-based immigration lawyer Simon Denims stated he was stunned that Djokovic was not being deported as a result of his COVID-19 an infection final month didn’t exempt him from Australia’s strict guidelines that overseas guests are vaccinated until there are sound medical causes that they’ll’t be.

“The unanswered query is that if Djokovic was such a menace to good order, why grant him a visa” in November,” Denims requested. “This can be a high-risk technique. It’s going to be a lot tougher for the minister to persuade three judges that what he did was within the public curiosity.”

Djokovic, who has received the final three Australian Open titles, will probably be allowed out of lodge detention on Sunday to go to his attorneys’ workplaces for the video court docket listening to.

He’s searching for a report twenty first Grand Slam singles title. He’s at the moment tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer for essentially the most by a person in historical past.

In a submit on social media Wednesday that constituted his most in depth public feedback but on the episode, Djokovic blamed his agent for checking the flawed field on his journey doc, calling it “a human error and positively not deliberate.”

In that very same submit, Djokovic stated he went forward with an interview and a photograph shoot with a French newspaper in Serbia regardless of figuring out he’d examined constructive for COVID-19. Djokovic has been making an attempt to make use of what he says was a constructive check taken on Dec. 16 to justify a medical exemption that might permit him to keep away from the vaccine requirement on the grounds that he already had COVID-19.

In canceling Djokovic’ visa, Hawke stated Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s authorities “is firmly dedicated to defending Australia’s borders, significantly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The episode has touched a nerve in Australia, and significantly in Victoria state, the place locals went by way of greater than 260 days of lockdowns in the course of the worst of the pandemic.

Australia faces an enormous surge in virus instances pushed by the extremely transmissible omicron variant. On Friday, the nation reported 130,000 new instances, together with almost 35,000 in Victoria state. Though many contaminated folks aren’t getting as sick as they did in earlier outbreaks, the surge remains to be placing extreme pressure on the well being system and disrupting provide chains.

Djokovic’s supporters in Serbia have been dismayed by the visa cancellations. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic accused the Australian authorities of “harassing” and “maltreating” Djokovic and requested whether or not Morrison’s authorities is simply making an attempt to attain political factors forward of upcoming elections.

“Why didn’t you come him again straight away, or inform him it was inconceivable to get a visa?” Vucic requested the Australian authorities in a social media tackle. “Why are you harassing him and why are you maltreating not solely him, however his household and a complete nation that’s free and proud.”

Everybody on the Australian Open is required to be vaccinated.

In response to Grand Slam guidelines, if Djokovic is pressured to drag out of the match earlier than the order of play for Day 1 is introduced, No. 5 seed Andrey Rublev would transfer into Djokovic’s spot within the bracket.

If Djokovic withdraws from the match after Monday’s schedule is launched, he would get replaced within the area by what’s often called a “fortunate loser” — a participant who loses within the qualifying match however will get into the principle draw due to one other participant’s exit earlier than competitors has began.


AP Sports activities Author John Pye contributed to this report.


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