Djokovic back in custody, continues to fight deportation – NBC Chicago
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Novak Djokovic was reportedly back in immigration detention on Saturday after his legal challenge to avoid being deported from Australia for not being vaccinated against COVID-19 was transferred to three judges in a higher court.
A Federal Court hearing is scheduled for Sunday, a day before the No.1-ranked men’s tennis player and nine-time Australian Open champion was due to begin his title defense at the inaugural Grand Slam tennis tournament. the year.
Police closed a lane behind the building where Djokovic’s lawyers are based and two vehicles exited the building mid-afternoon local time on Saturday. In television footage, Djokovic could be seen wearing a face mask in the back of a vehicle near a migrant detention hotel.
The Australian Associated Press reported that Djokovic was back in custody. He spent four nights confined to a hotel near Melbourne city center before being released last Monday when he won a legal challenge on procedural grounds against his first visa cancellation.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke on Friday blocked the 34-year-old Serb’s visa, which was initially revoked when he landed at Melbourne Airport on January 5.
Deportation from Australia may result in a three-year re-entry ban, although this may be lifted, depending on the circumstances.
Djokovic admitted that his travel declaration was incorrect as it did not state that he had been to multiple countries in the two weeks prior to his arrival in Australia.
But incorrect travel information isn’t the reason Hawke decided deporting Djokovic was in the public interest.
His lawyers filed documents in court on Saturday revealing that Hawke had said that “Djokovic is seen by some as the talisman of a community of anti-vaccination sentiments.”
Australia is one of the most vaccinated populations in the world, with 89% of people aged 16 and over fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
But the minister said Djokovic’s presence in Australia could pose a risk to the health and “good order” of the Australian public. His presence “could be counterproductive to vaccination efforts by others in Australia”, the minister said.
The Department of Health said Djokovic had a “low” risk of transmitting COVID-19 and a “very low” risk of transmitting the disease at the Australian Open.
The minister cited comments made by Djokovic in April 2020, before a COVID-19 vaccine was available, that he was “opposed to vaccination”.
Djokovic had “previously said that he wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to get vaccinated” to participate in tournaments.
The evidence “clearly shows that he publicly expressed anti-vaccination sentiment,” the minister wrote in his reasons for revoking Djokovic’s visa.
Djokovic’s lawyers say the minister has cited no evidence that Djokovic’s presence in Australia could “foster anti-vaccination sentiment”.
Djokovic will be released from hotel detention on Sunday to visit his lawyers’ offices for the video hearing.
On Saturday, Federal Chief Justice James Allsop announced he would hear the case with Justices David O’Callaghan and Anthony Besanko.
The decision by three judges to hear the appeal instead of a single judge elevates the significance of the case from a justice standpoint and potentially gives Djokovic an advantage.
The trio are seen as experienced judges who are more likely to find a minister at fault than their younger colleagues.
O’Callaghan had earlier suggested that a full bench hear the case. A full bench is made up of three or five judges.
A full bench means any verdict would be less likely to be appealed. The only avenue of appeal would be the High Court and there would be no guarantee that this court would even agree to hear such an appeal.
Djokovic’s lawyer, Paul Holdenson, opted for a full bench while Hawke’s lawyer, Stephen Lloyd, preferred a single judge.
“There’s nothing special about the motives,” Lloyd argued, referring to Djokovic’s argument that Hawke made an irrational decision based on no evidence.
“They are not new legally and we say there is no justification for departing from the ordinary” in appointing three judges, Lloyd added.
Legal observers suspect Lloyd is keeping the option open of another Federal Court appeal because he thinks the minister can build a stronger case without rushing to deliver a verdict by Monday.
Djokovic has won the last three Australian Opens, part of his total of 20 Grand Slam championships. He is tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer for most by a man in history.
In a social media post on Wednesday that was his most extensive public comments to date on the episode, Djokovic blamed his agent for checking the wrong box on the form, calling it “human error and certainly not deliberate”.
In that same message, Djokovic said he had given an interview and a photo op with a French newspaper in Serbia despite knowing he had tested positive for COVID-19 two days earlier. Djokovic tried to use what he says was a positive test taken on December 16 to justify a medical exemption that would allow him to circumvent the vaccine requirement on the grounds that he already had COVID-19.
In canceling Djokovic’s visa, Hawke said Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government “is strongly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Morrison himself hailed Djokovic’s impending expulsion. The episode struck a chord in Australia, and particularly in the state of Victoria, where residents endured hundreds of days of lockdown at the worst of the pandemic.
Australia is facing a massive increase in virus cases caused by the highly transmissible omicron variant. The country reported 130,000 new cases on Friday, including nearly 35,000 in Victoria state. Although many infected people do not get as sick as in previous outbreaks, the outbreak continues to strain the health care system, with more than 4,400 people hospitalized. It has also disrupted workplaces and supply chains.
Djokovic’s supporters in Serbia have been appalled by visa cancellations. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Friday accused the Australian government of “harassing” and “abusing” Djokovic and questioned whether he was simply trying to score political points before the next election.
“Why didn’t you send him back right away or tell him it was impossible to get a visa?” Vucic asked Australian authorities in a social media address. “Why are you harassing him and why are you mistreating not only him, but his family and an entire free and proud nation.”
Everyone at the Australian Open – including players, their support teams and spectators – must be vaccinated.
Under Grand Slam rules, if Djokovic is forced to withdraw from the tournament before the order of play for Day 1 is announced, No. 5 seed Andrey Rublev would fill Djokovic’s place in the squad.
If Djokovic withdraws from the tournament after Monday’s schedule is published, he will be replaced on the pitch by what is known as a ‘lucky loser’ – a player who loses in the qualifying tournament but enters the main draw because of the exit of another player before the competition. has begun.
And if Djokovic plays in one match – or more – and is then told he can no longer play in the tournament, his next opponent will simply advance to the next round and there will be no substitution.
More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Djokovic back in custody, continues to fight deportation – NBC Chicago
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