Novak Djokovic detained in Australia ahead of decisive immigration hearing

Djokovic, the world’s top-ranked men’s tennis player, has had his visa revoked twice by immigration officials for not being vaccinated against Covid-19.

The tennis star was interviewed by the Australian Border Force at 8am local time (4pm ET Friday). 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 prevent a “media frenzy”.

Djokovic is expected to spend Saturday night in police custody while his case is discussed in Australia’s federal court.

During the first hearing on Saturday, Judge David O’Callaghan, who is presiding over the case, said the court will hear detailed pleadings on Sunday.

If Djokovic’s appeal succeeds, according to that timetable, he could participate in Monday’s Australian Open draw.

However, the tournament was largely overshadowed by the high-profile off-court saga pitting one of tennis’s biggest stars against the Australian 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Djokovic’s visa was revoked for the second time on Friday by Australia’s immigration minister Alex Hawke, but the government has agreed not to deport Djokovic over the weekend before his case is concluded.

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

“The underlying new rationale is not an immediate risk to others, it is that Mr Djokovic who is in Australia, particularly in Melbourne, by being here will stir up anti-vax sentiments. That’s the point. A radically different approach said Wood.

'It's not a good situation': How the world reacted after Novak Djokovic's visa was revoked again

Current Australian law requires all international arrivals 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 linked to Tennis Australia and the Victorian state government had granted him an exemption on the grounds that he was infected with Covid-19 in December. The federal government argued that a previous infection with Covid-19 under its rules is not a valid reason for an exemption.

Djokovic’s legal team challenged Friday’s ruling and the case was moved to Australian federal court.

After an emergency hearing Friday, Judge Kelly ruled that Djokovic should submit to an interview with the Australian Border Force at an undisclosed location.

Kelly then ordered authorities to take Djokovic into custody and escort him to his attorney’s office while his case appears in federal court.

Djokovic’s visa was first revoked shortly after his arrival on January 5, but Kelly earlier this week ruled border officials had been “unreasonable” in canceling his original visa to Australia. The judge then ordered Djokovic to be released from immigration detention.

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