Novak Djokovic rests during a practice session ahead of the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament at Melbourne, January 14 2022. Photo: EPA-EFE/DIEGO FEDELE AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT
Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic may not be deported from Australia before Sunday local time, when a court hearing about his visa cancelation will be held, Australia’s Federal Circuit and Family Court decided on Friday.
The court ordered Djokovic to remain in custody prior to the hearing, with time ordered to spend time with his legal team to prepare for the hearing.
“The applicant may continue in detention from 10am until 2pm on Saturday, 15 January, such detention to be affected by his being delivered by the respondent to the offices of the applicant’s solicitors, where he shall remain subjected to the supervision of the two officers of the Australian Border Force,” judge Anthony Kelly said on the hearing on Friday local time.
Djokovic will be questioned by immigration authorities on Saturday morning (Friday evening CET time), and the hearing about his visa case will be held on Sunday morning local time. Holding the hearing during the weekend was urged by Djokovic’s legal representatives because his matches are due to start shortly at the Australian Open.
Djokovic will be delivered to the hearing from detention. Both parties agreed the location will not be disclosed publicly.
The saga about the Serbian tennis star’s Australian visa took a fresh twist on Friday when Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke again cancelled his visa on the basis of “the public interest”.
Hawke thereby overturned the Federal Circuit and Family Court decision on Monday to quash the previous decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa.
That earlier court order had said the decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa was “unreasonable” due to the short amount of time he was given to gather his arguments.
It established that on January 6 at 5:20am, Djokovic was told he had “until 8.30am to provide comments in response to a notice of intention to consider cancellation”.
Djokovic, a vocal sceptic about vaccines, had travelled to Australia after the Victoria state authorities granted him a medical exemption to the country’s strict vaccination requirements.
But when he arrived, the Australian Border Force deemed his exemption invalid and barred him from entering the country. Due to his COVID-19 vaccination status, the 34-year-old star was confined to an immigration detention Park Hotel in Melbourne which his family condemned as unfit.
This facility is used for settlement for refugees and asylum seekers, some of whom are held there for years.
The Serbian player is one of the most successful athletes ever in the Balkans, and is currently ranked No 1 on the Association of Tennis Professionals list.