Jan 15, 2022: According to a report by AFP, Australia said on Friday they would detain Novak Djokovic again this weekend after his visa was revoked, a dramatic blow to the world number one tennis record’s goal of winning the 21st Grand Slam.
As the Australian Open kicks off on Monday, the nine-time winner was told in an emergency hearing that he would be in immigration custody from Saturday morning – not at the Melbourne Park tennis court.
The megastar’s bid to avoid deportation will be heard by the Federal Court of Australia on Saturday at 10:15 am (2315 GMT Friday).
Barrister Stephen Lloyd told an emergency meeting of the federal court last night that the government had agreed not to deport the 34-year-old Serbian tennis player until the end of the trial. But Djokovic is expected to arrive at government offices at 8 a.m Saturday to be detained.
The barrister said he would be allowed to pursue online court hearings in his lawyers’ offices, but only under the supervision of Australian Border Force officers.
It is unclear if Djokovic will choose to stay and fight the case if he believes he is unable to compete in the Australian Open. Australia’s conservative government, once defeated in court, this time demanded extraordinary administrative powers to revoke its visa in the public interest.
The player’s barrister Nick Wood said the government had argued that Djokovic’s presence would stir anti-vaccine sentiment in Australia, which is fighting a surge of infections by the Omicron variant.
Djokovic, an avowed Covid-19 vaccine skeptic, is the tournament’s top seed and had been practising just hours before Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s decision was announced.
The Australian government insists a recent infection does not qualify as a vaccine exemption for foreign nationals trying to enter the country. Djokovic’s legal team overturned the visa decision in court on Monday because border officials at the airport had failed to give him the agreed time to respond.
Hawke said in a statement that the government was “committed to protecting Australia’s borders, especially with regard to the pandemic,”
He cited “the foundations of good health and good governance” for the decision, saying “it was in the public interest to do so.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison backed the decision: “Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the results of these sacrifices to be protected.”
The visa revocation effectively means that Djokovic will be barred from obtaining a new Australian visa for three years, except in exceptional circumstances, if he is out of one of the four Grand Slam tournaments during that time. Djokovic’s vaccine waiver has sparked outrage among many Australians who have endured almost two years of some of the world’s toughest corona virus bans.
Meanwhile in Belgrade, his compatriots reacted with shock to the news that his visa had been revoked.
Ealier, Djokovic described reports about post-infection outings without a mask in Serbia as “misinformation”.
On the day of his claimed positive test in Serbia, he attended a ceremony to honour him with stamps bearing his image. The following day he attended a youth tennis event. He appeared at both apparently without a mask.
Djokovic said on Instagram that he only received the PCR test result after going to the children’s tennis event on December 17.
But he admitted he also went ahead with an interview with French sports daily L’Equipe on December 18.
“On reflection, this was an error of judgement and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment,” Djokovic said.
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