Djokovic’s visa reinstated by Australian judge but gov’t may hold off


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Melbourne, Australia — An Australian judge has reinstated tennis star Novak Djokovic’s visa, which was canceled last week because he is unvaccinated. 

Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly also ordered the government on Monday to release Djokovic from Melbourne hotel quarantine within 30 minutes of his decision.

That renewed the world’s top-ranked tennis player’s chance to win a record 21st Grand Slam title at the upcoming Australian Open.

But government lawyers told the court Australia’s immigration minister wasn’t relinquishing his right to use his personal power to again revoke the visa.

That would mean mean Djokovic could again face deportation and could miss the Australian Open, which starts January 17.

Djokovic has been under guard in hotel quarantine in Melbourne since Thursday, when his visa was canceled.

But the judge ordered that Djokovic be released from the quarantine during his court hearing. It wasn’t clear where Djokovic relocated to during his hearing. He didn’t appear on-screen in the first hours of the virtual hearing. 

The government canceled the 34-year-old’s visa shortly after he arrived in Melbourne late Wednesday to play in the Australian Open because officials decided he didn’t meet the criteria for an exemption to an entry requirement that all non-citizens be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

Djokovic, who court documents say is unvaccinated, argued he didn’t need proof of vaccination because he had evidence that he’d been infected with the coronavirus last month.

Australian medical authorities have ruled that a temporary exemption for the vaccination rule can be provided to people who’ve been infected with COVID-19 within six months.

Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly noted that Djokovic had provided officials at Melbourne’s airport with a medical exemption given to him by Tennis Australia, which is organizing the Open, 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’s lawyers submitted 11 grounds for appeal against his visa cancellation. The lawyers described the cancellation as “seriously illogical,” irrational and legally unreasonable.

Lawyers for Home Affairs Minister Karen Andres said in their submission that if the judge ruled in Djokovic’s favor, officials might cancel his visa a second time.

They said the vaccination requirement could only be deferred for arriving travelers who have had a COVID-19 infection if their illness was acute.

“There is no suggestion that the applicant (Djokovic) had ‘acute major medical illness’ in December” when he tested positive, the written submission said.

The virtual hearing crashed several times because of an overwhelming number of people from around the world trying to watch the proceedings.

At one point, an expired court link was apparently hacked and broadcast pornography, The New Daily News website reported.

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. 

Read the full article at: cbsnews.com


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