The Tennis world number one Novak Djokovic had previously faced deportation from Australia after the government revoked his visa for failing to meet COVID vaccine-entry requirements. He was stopped by border officials on arrival to Australia late on Wednesday and denied entry into the country. Djokovic was held at an immigration detention facility in Melbourne and his lawyers had appealed in court with the case. At an emergency hearing on Friday, a government lawyer said Australia will delay efforts to deport Novak Djokovic until his renewed legal challenge concludes.
Novak Djokovic will not be deported before his case is heard
Stephen Lloyd told a judge that the government would not detain Djokovic before an interview with immigration officials on Saturday morning and he would not be deported before his case is heard.
The vaccine-skeptic Serbian star’s visa was cancelled by Australia for a second time on Friday. The country’s conservative government, defeated once in the courts, invoked extraordinary executive powers to again rip up the 34-year-old Serbian’s visa on public interest grounds.
The move came just three days before the Australian Open starts, putting Djokovic’s dream of a record 21st Grand Slam in serious doubt. The Serbian star is a top seed and had been practising on the Melbourne Park courts just hours before Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s bombshell decision was announced.
The government is “firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Hawke said in a statement.
He cited “health and good order grounds” for the decision and said “it was in the public interest to do so”.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison backed the decision: “Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected.”
The visa cancellation effectively means the world’s number one tennis player would be barred from obtaining a new Australian visa for three years, except under exceptional circumstances.
Novak Djokovic challenged the decision
Djokovic’s lawyer Nick Wood requested an injunction against his removal and appealed for him to be allowed to remain out of immigration detention as the case proceeds. “We are very concerned about time,” Wood said, arguing that the government’s decision was marked by “irrationality.”
We will keep you updated with the news as Novak Djokovic controversial saga continues.