Djokovic is detained and continues to fight deportation

Melbourne, Australia (AP)

Novak Djokovic returned to the immigration camp on Saturday after a legal objection to avoid being deported from Australia for not being vaccinated with COVID-19 was transferred to the High Court. ..

A federal court hearing is scheduled for Sunday the day before the men’s # 1 tennis player and nine Australian Open champions were scheduled to begin defending his title at the first Grand Slam tennis tournament of the year.

Djokovic and his lawyer had a morning meeting with Immigration officials, and by mid-afternoon, Australian media reported that the tennis star had been detained. Television footage showed that 34-year-old Selve was wearing a face mask while sitting in a car near an immigration detention hotel.

He was released last Monday after spending four nights trapped in a hotel near downtown Melbourne and won a court objection to the cancellation of his first visa for procedural reasons.

Friday’s Immigration Minister Alex Hawke blocked the visa, which was first revoked when he landed at Melbourne Airport on January 5.

Deportation from Australia may result in a three-year ban on return, but may be exempt in some circumstances.

Djokovic admitted that the travel declaration was incorrect because he could not show that he had stayed in multiple countries in the two weeks prior to his arrival in Australia.

But that was not the reason Hawk decided that Djokovic’s deportation was in the public interest.

Djokovic’s lawyer has submitted to court a document stating that Hawk has stated that the tennis star is “recognized as a talisman for the community of anti-vaccination sentiment.”

Australia is one of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the world.

But the minister said Djokovic’s presence in Australia could pose a risk to the health and “order” of the Australian people and “could adversely affect vaccination efforts by others in Australia.” Stated.

The Ministry of Health advised that Djokovic has a “low” risk of transmitting COVID-19 and a “very low” risk of transmitting it at the Australian Open.

The Minister quoted Djokovic’s comments in April 2020. He was “against vaccination” and didn’t want to be forced to vaccinate someone for competition.

Djokovic’s lawyer claimed that the minister did not cite evidence that Djokovic’s presence in Australia could “promote feelings against vaccination.”

Hundreds of activists held a peaceful rally outside the Melbourne Park complex, which hosts the Australian Open, and planned another rally on Monday.

“We are at Rod Laver Arena to support Novak. He has won nine (Australian Open) titles here. Hopefully this will be in 10th place. From Quarantine. I wish I could get out and get my visa back, “said Harrison McLean, one of the rally organizers. “We are a peaceful movement, where we raise awareness and support freedom of choice for all.”

On Saturday, Federal Supreme Court Justice James Allsop announced that he would hear the case between Judge David O’Callahan and Judge Anthony Besanko.

The decision to have three judges hear the appeal instead of one judges makes the case more important from a judicial point of view and means that any verdict is unlikely to be appealed.

Simon Jeans, a Sydney-based immigration lawyer, said his COVID-19 infection last month would be vaccinated unless there was a sound medical reason that foreign visitors could not be vaccinated. He said he was surprised that Jokovic was no longer deported because he did not exempt him from the strict rules of Australia. Be.

“The unanswered question is whether Djokovic was such a threat to order and why give him a visa,” Jeans asked. “This is a risky strategy. It would be much harder for the minister to convince the three judges that what he did was for the public good.”

Djokovic, who won the last three titles of the Australian Open, will be allowed to leave the hotel detention on Sunday and visit his law firm for a video court hearing.

He wants a record 21st Grand Slam singles title. He is now associated with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer by the most people in history.

In a social media post on Wednesday, Djokovic made the most extensive public comment ever in this episode, accusing the agent of checking the wrong box in the travel document, saying, “It’s a human error, sure. It’s not intentional. “

In that same post, Djokovic said he proceeded with an interview and photo shoot with a French newspaper in Serbia, even though he knew he had a positive test for COVID-19. Djokovic says he is a positive test done on December 16th to justify a medical exemption that can avoid the need for a vaccine because he is already infected with COVID-19. I’m trying to use it.

In revoking Djokovic’s visa, Mr. Hawk said the government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison “is determined to protect the Australian border, especially with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

This episode became nervous in Australia, especially in Victoria. In Victoria, during the worst of the pandemic, locals experienced more than 260 days of blockade.

Australia is facing a surge in viral cases caused by highly contagious Omicron variants. On Friday, the country reported 130,000 new cases, including nearly 35,000 in Victoria. Many infected people are not as sick as they were in previous outbreaks, but the surge still puts a heavy burden on the healthcare system and disrupts the supply chain.

Serbian Djokovic supporters were disappointed with the cancellation of the visa. Serbian President Alexander Vucci accused the Australian government of “harassing” and “abusing” Djokovic and asked if the Morrison administration was trying to score political points ahead of the next election. ..

“Why didn’t you return him right away, or did you tell him that it was impossible to get a visa?” Vucic asked Australian authorities in a social media speech. “Why are you harassing him, and why are you abusing not only him but his family and the entire free and proud country?”

Everyone at the Australian Open needs to be vaccinated.

According to Grand Slam rules, if Djokovic is forced to withdraw from the tournament before the order of play on the first day is announced, the fifth seed Andrey Rublev will move to Djokovic’s spot in the bracket. increase.

If Djokovic withdraws from the tournament after the Monday schedule is announced, he will be replaced by what is called a “lucky loser” in the field. The competition has begun.


AP Sports writer John Pye contributed to this report.

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Djokovic is detained and continues to fight deportation

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