Friday, May 20, 2022
HomeSportsTennis star Novak Djokovic detained ahead of deportation appeal

Tennis star Novak Djokovic detained ahead of deportation appeal

Djokovic faces deportation after his visa was cancelled for a second time, with the government labelling the 34-year-old a fear to public health.

His lawyers are appealing against what they called an unsound judgement, with the hearing set for Sunday.

Djokovic is still planning to play in the Australian Open on Monday in Melbourne.

If he were to win the tournament, he would become the most successful men’s tennis player in the history of the sport with 21 major titles.

But Sunday’s hearing, which has been scheduled for 09:30 local time, is crucial if Djokovic is to be able to compete just hours later.

On condition he loses the appeal, the world’s top-ranked Djokovic tennis player faces deportation and a 3 yrs visa ban.

On Saturday, after an online procedural hearing, Djokovic’s lawyers confirmed that he would spend the night in immigration detention at a hidden location in Melbourne.

At that hearing, Justice David O’Callaghan set the time for Sunday’s proceeding but said it was so far to be decided whether it would be heard by a single judge or a full court.

Court documents were issued later on Saturday that showed Immigration Minister Alex Hawke chose to cancel Djokovic’s visa because in his view the unvaccinated player’s presence could fuel opposition to Covid-19 vaccination.

consider that his presence may be a risk to the health of the Australian community,” he wrote in a letter to Djokovic and his lawyers, adding that he believed it could also provoke “civil unrest” because he is “a person of influence and status”.

Djokovic’s visa was first canceled shortly after his arrival in Melbourne on 6 January, after an Australian Border Force officer said he had failed to provide suitable evidence to receive a vaccine release.

The tennis star was detained for days at an immigration hotel, before his visa was reinstated by a judge, who ordered his release, ruling that border officier neglect correct procedure when he come.

But on Friday evening, Mr Hawke once again cancelled Djokovic’s visa under separate powers in Australia’s Migration Act.

The act allows him to deport anyone he deems a potential risk to “the health, safety or good order of the Australian community”. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the decision followed “careful consideration”.

Alluding to the heavy criticism his government has faced for allowing the unvaccinated player into Australia, Mr Morrison said: “Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected.” after reporting the news of Djokovic’s second visa cancellation, the operator leaned from car windows, honking their horns and shouting their approval.

Most people spoken to are pretty outraged that an unvaccinated player was ever allowed here in the first place.

Others have a more nuanced view. Sure, this is a shambles, they say, but the government overturning the ruling of an independent judge is pretty questionable too.

It’s clear, then, that this is not just about sport. It’s headline news and a big topic of conversation. And the background is important, too, as Australia struggles with Covid-19.

Many people are getting jabbed after months of living under strict restrictions. Intensive care wards are filling up, daily deaths have hit record levels, and some might say you’ve got less chance of finding a Covid test kit in a pharmacy than Djokovic has of playing on Monday.

Given the seriousness of the Omicron wave, there’s another sentiment that you hear often: this drawn-out saga has become a distraction from far more important issues.

Japanese player Naomi Osaka described the controversy surrounding Djokovic as “an unfortunate situation”.

“Djokovic is such a great player and it’s kind of sad that some people might remember [him] in this way. But I also think it’s… up to the government how Australia is deciding to handle it,” she said.


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