Australian court rejects bid to delay Djokovic visa hearing

A judge has denied a motion by the Australian authorities to postpone Novak Djokovic’s trial until Wednesday as the tennis star prepares to challenge a decision to revoke his visa.

As a result, as planned, government attorneys will have to defend their decision on Monday to ban entry into the world ranking of men because of his Covid-19 vaccination status.

the ruling by Judge Anthony Kelly of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia did not say why authorities tried to postpone the hearing just five days earlier Australian Open where Djokovic hopes to win his 21st Grand Slam title.

His participation, a week before the start of the first major tennis tournament of the season, is now in doubt. Instead of training, he was locked in a hotel for asylum seekers.

In an email to NBC News on Sunday, the Australian Home Office said it had “no comment” on the verdict as “the matter is in court.”

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The riot surrounding Djokovic, 34, began when he announced on Tuesday on Instagram that he was granted an exemption from the Covid-19 vaccination to fly to Australia to take part in the tournament.

While he was in the air, questions have been raised about how and why Djokovic was granted the exemption amid a worsening epidemic situation in Australia.

The country’s Covid-19 rules stipulate that arriving travelers must have received two shots of an approved vaccine or have an exception with a real medical reason to avoid quarantine. All players, staff, officials and fans must also be fully vaccinated in order to participate in the tournament.

On landing in Melbourne on Wednesday, Djokovic was refused entry after his visa was canceled for failing to provide appropriate evidence to meet entry requirements.

The Serb has so far refused to reveal his vaccination status.

In papers filed with the court on Saturday, his lawyers argued that he was granted an exemption because he contracted the virus and recovered from it in December.

However, that claim came under scrutiny after photos of Djokovic surfaced on social media showing that he was on the day his lawyers say he tested positive for Covid-19 and the day after Diagnosis without a mask attends public events.

It is not known whether Djokovic knew he tested positive when he attended the events in the photos.

NBC News has reached out to its representatives for comment.

In a trial prior to Monday’s hearing, government attorneys said the Australian government had not given Djokovic any assurance it would accept a medical exemption that he said would have to enter the country without a Covid-19 vaccination.

While awaiting his hearing, Djokovic had to spend four days in immigration detention at a Melbourne hotel that housed refugees and asylum seekers. Some of his Australian fans, many of whom are wrapped in Serbian flags and wearing “Novak” T-shirts, have protested in front of the hotel for his support.

A supporter of Novak Djokovic holds his photo during a rally in front of the Park Hotel on Sunday where the star athlete is being held.Loren Elliott / Reuters

His family has accused the Australian government of holding him as a “prisoner”. However, the country’s authorities denied these claims, saying the player was free to go Australia anytime.

Djokovic thanked his supporters in an Instagram post on Friday as he celebrated Orthodox Christmas in custody. “I can feel it and it will be very much appreciated,” said the player.

Other players who have been granted medical exemptions by Australian authorities have also been investigated and dragged into the Djokovic drama.

Renata Voracova, a 38-year-old Czech doubles player, was jailed at the same hotel for a vaccination dispute before leaving Australia on Saturday, the Associated Press reported.

The Associated Press contributed.

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