Tennis star Novak Djokovic wins appeal of visa cancellation in Australian court

Novak Djokovic won his appeal to stay in Australia on Monday after the country’s authorities refused entry to the tennis star because of his Covid-19 vaccination status.

At a virtual hearing in Australia’s Federal District and Family Court in Melbourne on Monday, Judge Anthony Kelly said Djokovic must be released from immigration custody within 30 minutes of the order being issued.

The number 1 battle in the men’s world was seen as a prominent example of the broader battle for vaccinations and government restrictions to fight the coronavirus. It came after the anger in Australia battling a new wave of infections fueled by the Omicron variant over Djokovic’s vaccine exemption claim allowing him to compete in this month’s tournament and defend his Grand Slam title.

The judge noted that the decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa was made by a delegate from the Interior Minister at 7.42 a.m. on Thursday, although Djokovic was given until 8.30 a.m. to respond to the notification that his visa was in danger of being canceled will.

“If the applicant had had until 8:30 am, they could have consulted others and presented to the delegate why their visa should not be canceled,” said Kelly, reading out an agreement between the government and Djokovic’s lawyers.

A previous court order had allowed Djokovic to leave the Park Hotel where he is detained so that he and his legal team could attend the virtual hearing.

The Serbian tennis icon was hoping to defend his Australian Open title, and his participation is now possible again a week before the start of the first major tennis tournament of the season. But the government says the immigration minister could still use his personal power to cancel Djokovic’s visa.

The riot surrounding Djokovic, 34, began when he announced on Instagram last Tuesday that he had been given “a special permit” for the Covid-19 vaccination, which would enable him 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 medical exemption amid a worsening epidemic situation in Australia. The country’s total number of coronavirus infections topped 1 million on Monday, more than half of which were recorded in the past week, Reuters reported.

The Australian 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 Australian Open players, staff, officials and fans must also be fully vaccinated to enter the tournament venue.

Australia has some of the strictest border restrictions in the world and doesn’t allow some international travel until November.

On landing in Melbourne late Wednesday, Djokovic was refused entry after his visa was canceled for failure to provide adequate evidence that he met entry requirements.

Djokovic has not yet disclosed 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.

Members of the local Serbian community gather outside a government prison where Serbian tennis champion Novak Djokovic is in Melbourne on Sunday. William West / AFP – Getty Images

However, that claim came under scrutiny after photos and videos of Djokovic surfaced on social media showing him testing positive on the day his lawyers said he tested positive and without the day after his diagnosis Mask participated in public events.

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

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In one Court records Ahead of 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 getting a Covid-19 vaccination.

At the hearing, Kelly asked why the Home Affairs Delegate did not accept Djokovic’s medical exception, which has been reviewed by two medical panels.

“The point I’m a little excited about is, ‘What more could this man have done?'” Said the judge.

On Saturday, Australian authorities tried to postpone the trial until Wednesday, but their offer was denied. In their court files, the government said that if Djokovic won, he would still have the power to cancel his visa and arrest him again.

Should Immigration Minister Alex Hawke remove Djokovic from Australia, the tennis star would not be eligible to return to the country for three years. This decision could also be challenged.

Kelly told government attorney Christopher Tran that he expected to be “fully informed” in the event of further legal proceedings.

Djokovic has won nine of his 20 major titles at the Australian Open and shares the men’s record for most majors with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

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The Djokovic drama shook the tennis world and created tension between Serbia and Australia. It has also become a focal point for opponents of vaccine mandates around the world.

Melbourne residents have suffered severe restrictions on their freedom of movement for months since the pandemic began, and Djokovic’s exception sparked outrage among residents, fueling allegations that the tennis star may have received preferential treatment.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison commented loudly on Djokovic’s case and said on Thursday: “Nobody is above the rules” and “there are no special cases”.

Meanwhile, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić has thrown national support behind Djokovic, said Wednesday in a post on Instagram that “all of Serbia is with him”.

In Serbia, Djokovic’s family held a rally in support of his support in Belgrade on Saturday for the third year in a row, and Prime Minister Ana Brnabic assured him that her government would support his visa dispute.

His Australian fans, many of whom were wrapped in Serbian flags and wearing “Novak” T-shirts, also gathered outside a Melbourne hotel where the tennis star had spent four days in immigration custody while awaiting his appeal hearing him. The hotel also accommodates refugees and asylum seekers, some of whom have been living there for years.

His family has accused the Australian government of “trapping” him in the hotel. 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 screened and dragged into the Djokovic excitement. Renata Voráčová, a 38-year-old Czech doubles player, was arrested at the same hotel on a vaccination dispute before leaving Australia on Saturday, the Associated Press reported.

The Australian Open begins on January 1st. 17. Djokovic is the defending champion and has won the Australian Open singles title nine times.

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