Melbourne, Australia – Tennis star Novak Djokovic won a court battle on Monday to stay in Australia to play at the Australian Open despite not having been vaccinated against, but the government quickly threatened to cancel his visa a second time.
In a tweet showing him on an Australian Open tennis court with members of his team, Djokovic said he was “satisfied and grateful that the judge canceled the cancellation of my visa.”
“Despite everything that has happened,” he said, “I want to stay and try to compete” in the championship. “I stay focused on this.”
Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly reinstated Djokovic’s visa, which wasbecause authorities decided it did not meet the criteria for exemption from an entry requirement that all non-citizens must be fully immunized.
The judge also ordered the government to release Djokovic within 30 minutes of the Melbourne quarantine hotel where he has spent the last four nights.
The decision renewed the chance for the world’s highest ranked tennis player to win a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title at the upcoming Open. Djokovic is a nine-time Australian Open champion. His 20 Grand Slam singles titles are a men’s record he shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
But government lawyer Christopher Tran told the judge after the ruling that Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Minister Alex Hawke “will consider whether to exercise personal power cancellation “of the visa.
“The minister is currently reviewing the matter and the process is continuing,” Reuters said, citing a Hawke spokesperson.
That would mean Djokovic could face expulsion again and miss the Open, which begins on January 17.
Kelly said the threat of another visa cancellation meant “the stakes are now up rather than down.”
Government lawyers have confirmed that another visa cancellation would mean Djokovic would be banned from Australia for three years.
The back-and-forth has gripped the world and caused a furore in Australia, where many initially decried the news that Djokovic, who was, had received an exemption from the country’s strict rules for foreign travelers. Many felt the star was receiving special treatment as Australians who are not fully vaccinated face strict travel and quarantine restrictions, and anyone entering the country must prove their vaccination status or demonstrate exemption.
When border police blocked him on his arrival, others screamed scandal, claiming he was the scapegoat for an Australian government criticized for its recent handling of the pandemic.
Speaking to Prva TV station in Belgrade, Serbia, tennis star’s brother Djordje Djokovic called the judge’s ruling a “big defeat for the Australian authorities” but said the family were still hearing. that his brother could be detained.
“It’s definitely politics, it was all politics,” he added.
In a subsequent press conference, Djokovic’s parents reiterated claims that he was being mistreated for political reasons, even suggesting that he had been tortured in detention in Australia and that his human rights had been violated.
Home Secretary Karen Andrews’ office confirmed that Djokovic had not been placed under arrest.
Hundreds of fans gathered outside his lawyer’s office in Melbourne on Monday evening, many carrying Serbian flags and sporting the banner’s red, white and blue colors. They chanted “Free Nole”, using the star’s nickname. Police then dispersed them when they surrounded a car trying to leave the area.
The virtual audience crashed multiple times due to an overwhelming number of people around the world trying to watch the proceedings.
At one point, an expired forensic link was apparently hacked and disseminated pornography, The New Daily News website reported.
Agence France-Presse described the restoration of Monday’s visas as “an extraordinary setback for the Australian government, which has imposed strict pandemic requirements on foreign travelers arriving for the past two years.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Conservative government is seeking re-election to a fourth three-year term in elections slated for May.
While his government has been widely praised for bringing the country’s COVID-19 death toll under control at the start of the pandemic, Omicron cases have increased rapidly. He has been criticized for the shortage of rapid antigenic tests and for refusing to make the tests available to everyone for free.
Djokovic had argued that he did not need proof of vaccination because he had proof that. Australian medical authorities have decided that a temporary exemption from the vaccination rule can be granted to people infected with COVID-19 within six months.
Circuit court judge Anthony Kelly noted that Djokovic had provided Melbourne airport officials with a medical exemption granted to him by Tennis Australia, which hosts the Open, and two medical panels.
“The point I’m a little agitated about is what more could this man have done?” Kelly asked Djokovic’s attorney, Nick Wood.
Wood agreed with the judge that Djokovic couldn’t have done more.
Transcripts of Djokovic’s interview with border officials and his own affidavit revealed a “repeated appeal to the officers with whom he dealt that to his knowledge, without question, he had done absolutely everything he believed was necessary so he can enter Australia, “Wood says.
Djokovic’s lawyers presented 11 grounds for appeal against the cancellation of his visa. Lawyers called the cancellation “seriously illogical”, irrational and legally unreasonable.