World No. 1 tennis star Novak Djokovic faces uncertaintly over participation in the Australian Open 2022 despite a judge ruling in his favour on the Australian government's bid to cancel his visa for not meeting the country's coronavirus regulations . (More Tennis News)
Novak Djokovic on Monday won a court case after judge Anthony Kelly found that the decision to cancel the visa of the defending Australian Open men's singles champion was 'unreasonable.'
Judge Kelly, who was hearing whether top-ranked tennis star Novak Djokovic will play in the Australian Open 2022 or not, had earlier questioned what more the Serbian could have done to meet Australia’s coronavirus entry requirements.
The 34-year-old world No. 1 tennis star was fighting deportation and the cancellation of his visa in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. Judge Kelly has ordered that Djokovic must be released immediately from a detention hotel and his passport returned.
While the Australian government agreed to comply with the court order, it was considering a personal power of visa cancellation that will keep Novak Djokovic out of the Australian Open.
Judge Kelly said if the government exercises a personal power to cancel the visa then Djokovic will not be permitted to return to Australia in three years. He demanded that if the government decided to enact the powers that they have threatened, the court was entitled to be informed, say reports.
It is learnt that the Australian government has so far made no decision to deport Novak Djokovic . That decision can be made on Tuesday or in the days to come.
Earlier, Djokovic had been allowed to leave the Park Hotel, where he is being held in detention, to view the hearing. The freedom from immigration detenion is albeit a short-term one and until a decision is made on his visa. Novak Djokovic is the defending Australian Open men's singles champion.
Djokovic had his visa canceled after arriving at Melbourne airport last week when Australian border officials ruled that he didn’t meet the criteria for an exemption to an entry requirement that all non-citizens be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
Djokovic is seeking a 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open 2022 which is beginning on January 17. Djokovic, whose court documents say is unvaccinated, argued he did not need proof of vaccination because he had evidence that he had been infected with the coronavirus last month.
This is pretty unconvincing from Tennis Australia and shouldn’t be material…tournaments deal with late withdrawals all the time, and there’s still several days before the draws are made, even. https://t.co/bJela1aUpY— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 10, 2022
Australian medical authorities have ruled that a temporary exemption for the vaccination rule can be provided to people who have been infected with COVID-19 within six months.
Circuit Court Judge Kelly noted that Djokovic had provided officials at Melbourne’s airport with a medical exemption given him by Tennis Australia, which is organizing the tournament that starts on Jan. 17, and two medical panels.
“The point I’m somewhat agitated about is what more could this man have done?” Kelly asked Djokovic’s lawyer, Nick Wood. Wood agreed with the judge that Djokovic could not have done more.
Transcripts of Djokovic’s interview with Border Force officials and his own affidavit revealed a “repeated appeal to the officers with which he was dealing that to his understanding, uncontradicted, he had done absolutely everything that he understood was required in order for him to enter Australia,” Wood said.
Djokovic has been under guard in hotel quarantine in Melbourne since Thursday, when his visa was canceled. It was not clear where Djokovic relocated to during his hearing. He did not appear on screen in the first hours of the virtual hearing.
Djokovic’s lawyers submitted 11 grounds for appeal against his visa cancellation. The lawyers described the cancellation as “seriously illogical,” irrational and legally unreasonable. The virtual hearing crashed several times because of an overwhelming number of people from around the world trying to watch the proceedings.
Novak Djokovic is a nine-time Australian Open champion. He has 20 Grand Slam singles titles, a men’s record he shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
With AP inputs