Novak Djokovic’s fans on Monday afternoon (10/1) celebrated the world number one’s victory outside an immigration hotel in Melbourne where he is being held. Federal Court Judge Anthony Kelly said the Australian government’s decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa was “unwarranted.” Kelly said the Serb was not given enough time to speak to Australian Open tournament organizers or his legal team after he was detained at Melbourne airport last Wednesday, the standard treatment for a “non-citizen” under Australian law. .
Djokovic flew to Australia believing he was exempt from the kangaroo country’s Covid-19 vaccine vaccination rule, which stipulates that all foreign nationals entering the country must have been fully vaccinated or present a medical exemption.
Djokovic said he had contracted the coronavirus in December, which gave him the right to apply for a vaccination exemption. However, Australian authorities said the tennis star did not meet the country’s immigration regulations and would be deported.
Djokovic’s legal team told the court that the decision to revoke his client’s visa was “illogical, irrational and legally unreasonable.”
Immigration attorney John Findlay told the Australian Broadcasting Corp it was difficult for the government to win the case. “I expected this court’s decision. Djokovic’s lawyers put forward a very interesting case. The main thing that concerns the court is the injustice – a real injustice – to Djokovic regarding the behavior of the officers at Melbourne airport.”
Djokovic has been released and is likely to be allowed to defend his title at the Australian Open on January 17. He has won the match nine times. If he wins again in this year’s tournament, the 34-year-old will become the most successful men’s grand slam champion with 21 titles.
However, Australian Immigration Affairs Minister Alex Hawke was authorized to intervene and order Djokovic’s deportation. Under Australian law, the minister has extraordinary powers and discretion to cancel a visa. Hawke is also authorized to bar him from entering Australia for the next three years.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra Monday declining to comment on the court ruling.
“I’m not going to make any statements about the matter being heard in court, and any other steps the government may take. I mean, right now it’s purely a court matter. But in terms of government, the federal government’s advice to the organizers of the Australian Open last November was clear. I read a quote from this podium. It couldn’t be any clearer,” he explained. [em/jm]