The tennis champion, unvaccinated and whose visa has just been canceled for the second time, has been placed in detention until a Federal Court rules on his case from January 15, while the Open d Australia starts on January 17.
Novak Djokovic is moving a little further away from the Australian Open. Pending a court decision on his case, the world number 1 in tennis was indeed returned on January 15 to administrative detention in a center in Melbourne, two days before the start of the tournament.
The day before, his visa had been canceled for the second time by the Australian government, which considers that the player not vaccinated against Covid-19 constitutes a danger to public order. Djokovic’s presence in Australia “could encourage anti-vaccination sentiment” and “trigger an upsurge in civil unrest,” Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said in a court document.
Referral hearings are scheduled for January 15 and the next day before a Federal Court. Authorities have said the tennis player will not be deported from Australia until judges have ruled. The player is only allowed to leave the detention center to follow the legal hearings concerning him online from the offices of his lawyers, and under the surveillance of border police officers.
This is the second time the Australian government has attempted to deport Djokovic from the country. The player had been blocked upon his arrival in Australia on January 5 and placed in administrative detention for the first time. He had hoped for an exemption to enter the country without being vaccinated, after contracting the virus in December, but the authorities did not accept this exemption. Djokovic has admitted to incorrectly filling in his declaration on entering Australia, and not respecting the rules of isolation after testing positive. The champion pleaded “human error”.
Banned from entering the country for three years?
The Australian government suffered a setback on January 10 when a judge blocked Djokovic’s deportation, reinstated his visa and ordered his immediate release. The Serb was then able to resume his training for the Australian Open, where he hopes to win a tenth title and a 21st Grand Slam, which would be a record. Eventually, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, using his discretion in the matter, once again canceled Djokovic’s visa “on grounds of health and public order,” a measure difficult to challenge in court.
In his conclusions filed on January 15 before the Court, the minister argued that the presence of Djokovic in the country “is likely to represent a health risk for the Australian community”, because it encourages, according to him, anti-vaccination sentiment and could deter Australians to get their booster shots, as the Omicron variant continues to spread at high speed. While admitting that the risk of Djokovic infecting Australians himself is “negligible”, the minister considered that his past “contempt” of health rules against Covid-19 constitutes a bad example, and therefore a health risk. public. The minister “does not cite any evidence” in support of his arguments, retorted the player’s lawyers.
The 34-year-old is expected to face fellow countryman Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round. The cancellation of his visa, if confirmed by the courts, implies that Novak Djokovic will be banned from entering the country for three years, except in exceptional circumstances.
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