Novak Djokovic has finally made his way to a tennis court in Australia. This morning the men’s world No.1 had his visa cancellation overturned after winning a courtroom battle.
The Serbian, 34, was refused entry to the country on Thursday and spent four nights in a detention hotel. Djokovic, who has not publicly revealed his vaccine status, flew Down Under after he was granted a medical “exemption permission”. However, Australian Border Force officials said he had failed to provide evidence to meet the entry requirements and his visa was subsequently cancelled.
This morning Judge Anthony Kelly of the Federal Circuit Court “quashed” the visa cancellation and ordered the Australian government to pay legal costs and release the player from detention within half an hour, The Guardian reported.
The player’s lawyers said a Covid-19 infection last month meant he was legally allowed to enter the country. According to a transcript of an interview revealed in court, he had told border officials he was unvaccinated and had been infected with Covid twice. Judge Kelly stated that the decision to cancel the visa was “unreasonable”.
After winning his appeal, the 20-time grand slam champion returned to the practice court and issued a statement on social media saying he wanted to stay in Melbourne, where he is aiming to win the Australian Open for a tenth time.
“I’m pleased and grateful that the judge overturned my visa cancellation,” Djokovic said. “Despite all that has happened, I want to stay and try to compete @AustralianOpen I remain focused on that. I flew here to play at one of the most important events we have in front of the amazing fans.”
Djokovic may want to focus on the tennis, but he may still be deported from Australia. Immigration Minister Alex Hawke is still considering revoking Djokovic’s visa and could overrule the decision. The MP is able to act using broad discretionary powers granted him by Australia’s Migration Act, the BBC reported.
A spokesperson said the minister is “currently considering the matter and the process remains ongoing”.
Should Hawke use this power, Djokovic “could be banned from re-entering Australia for three years”, the Daily Mail said. “But a three-year entry ban could be waived even if Mr Hawke does cancel the player’s visa.”
Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd used Twitter to “lambast” current PM Scott Morrison over the Djokovic case. Rudd tweeted: “Morrison just lost his case against #Djokovic. Total incompetence! Like on everything else.”
As Djokovic was getting some practice in on the court at Melbourne Park, his family held a press conference in Belgrade, the Serbian capital city.
Dijana Djokovic, his mother, said the decision to overturn his visa cancellation was the “biggest victory” of her son’s career. She also claimed he had been “subject to torture and harassment”. Djordje Djokovic said his brother was in Australia to “set another record”. He added: “Novak has always advocated freedom of choice, nothing more.”