After Australia’s latest visa cancellation, Djokovic’s appeal will be heard on Saturday.
Novak Djokovic, the world number one tennis player, was poised to take his deportation case to a federal court on Saturday after the government again cancelled his visa due to COVID-19 entrance requirements and his unvaccinated status.
The government agreed not to deport him until the matter was resolved, but the world’s number one men’s tennis player was ordered to report to pre-deportation detention at 8 a.m. on Saturday (2100 GMT on Friday).
After Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used discretionary powers to deny the visa, his legal team filed an appeal late Friday, hoping that the Serbian player would still be able to start defending his Australian Open championship on Monday.
The lawyers said they would argue that deporting Djokovic, by inflaming anti-vaccine sentiment, is just as dangerous to public health as letting him stay and avoiding Australia’s demand that all visitors be vaccinated.
In Serbia, a health ministry official defended Djokovic against media accusations that the positive COVID-19 test he claimed as the basis for his exemption papers was tainted.
Der Spiegel, a German news publication, reported earlier this week that the test’s QR code initially yielded a negative result but afterwards yielded a positive result, raising the question of when the test was actually done.
A ministry review revealed the paper to be «totally authentic,» according to Zoran Gojkovic, a member of the Serbian ministry’s COVID-19 crisis-fighting unit.
While Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has garnered domestic support for its firm position on border security during the pandemic, it has faced criticism for its treatment of Djokovic’s visa application, which appears to be contradictory.
Djokovic, 34, was advised on arrival on Jan. 5 that the medical exemption that allowed him to travel was invalid. He is attempting to win a record 21st Grand Slam title.
He was held in immigration custody for several days before the ruling was overturned on procedural grounds.
On Friday, Hawke announced that he had used his power to cancel the visa «on health and good order grounds, on the assumption that it was in the public interest to do so.»
He stated the government was «firmly committed to securing Australia’s borders, particularly in connection to the COVID-19 pandemic,» and that he had examined evidence from Djokovic and the authorities.
The government had promised not to deport Djokovic until the case was completed, and the player may leave custody to contact his attorneys and attend sessions, according to Judge Anthony Kelly, who cancelled the first cancellation.
Despite his stated opposition to mandatory vaccination, Djokovic has not advocated against vaccination in general.
Despite this, the incident has heightened a global debate about people’s rights to choose whether or not to get vaccinated and has become a contentious political issue for Morrison as he prepares for an election in May.
«Australians have made significant sacrifices throughout this pandemic, and they deserve to have the fruits of those sacrifices protected,» Morrison said in a statement.
«This is exactly what the minister is doing today by making this move. Australians have been kept secure thanks to our strong border protection regulations.»
Australians have been subjected to some of the world’s harshest curfews, and a rogue Omicron outbreak has resulted in nearly a million cases in the previous two weeks.
More than 90% of Australian adults are vaccinated, and an online poll conducted by News Corp (NASDAQ:) indicated that 83 percent of people support Djokovic’s expulsion.
An inaccurate entrance declaration, where a box was checked claiming he had not travelled overseas in the two weeks before leaving for Australia, did not help his argument.
He had travelled between Spain and Serbia, in reality.
Djokovic blamed his agency for the blunder, admitting that he should not have given an interview and photo session for a French publication on Dec. 18 while afflicted with COVID-19.
Anti-vaccination activists have lauded the footballer as a hero. More than 200 people were jailed in Melbourne last September after sometimes violent protests against a lockdown imposed to stop the spread of the virus.
‘PATENTLY IRRATIONAL’ is a phrase used to describe something that is patently irrational.
According to Djokovic’s legal team, the government claims that allowing him to remain in Australia will encourage others to avoid immunization.
Hawke was being «patently unreasonable,» according to one of his lawyers because he was ignoring the impact forcibly removing «this high profile, legally compliant, minimal risk, medically contradicted player» could have on anti-vax sentiment and public order.
On Friday, Djokovic appeared comfortable as he practised serves and returns with his entourage on an empty court at Melbourne Park, pausing only to wipe sweat from his face.
He was seeded first in the open and is scheduled to play fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic on Monday.
Before Hawke’s judgment, Greek world number four Stefanos Tsitsipas said Djokovic was «playing by his own rules» and making vaccinated players «look like fools.»
Some in Belgrade looked to have accepted Djokovic’s absence from the competition.
«He is a role model for all of us,» Milan Majstorovic told Reuters TV. «However, rules must be clearly established.» «I’m not sure how big of a role politics plays in that.»
«He can either vaccinate to stay world number one — or he can be stubborn and ruin his career,» Ana Bojic, another bystander, added.