Novak Djokovic faces another sleepless night in detention as the nine-time champion’s Australian Open fate remains in legal limbo following the adjournment of his desperate court case against deportation.
The world No.1 is challenging the Australian government’s decision to cancel his visa, applying for a judicial review, and attempting to stave off deportation in the meantime.
Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly on Thursday night said there was a delay in receiving the application for a review of the visa decisions and the temporary ban on Djokovic’s deportation.
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As such, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrew’s lawyer agreed the tennis superstar should not be deported until Friday at the earliest, with the case adjourned until Monday.
The nine-times Open champion remains locked in a quarantine hotel as he tries to keep alive his quest for a record 21st grand slam title at Melbourne Park later this month.
He was sent there after facing an eight-hour grilling from border force officials following his arrival after a 14-hour flight from Dubai on Wednesday night.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Djokovic had tried to enter the country without a medical exemption from vaccination.
The Serbian claimed he had such an exemption, but it appears this was only granted for the tournament and not entry into Australia.
Morrison said entry to Australia required double vaccination or a medical exemption, which Djokovic did not have, and that “rules are rules”.
“People must be fully vaccinated as defined by ATAGI (Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation) to gain quarantine-free entry into Australia,” he said on Thursday.
“That means people who do not meet the definition will not be approved for quarantine-free entry.
“I am advised that such an exemption was not in place and as a result he is subject to the same rule as anyone else.”
Following the border force decision, it emerged Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley was repeatedly warned that a recent COVID-19 infection wasn’t grounds for a medical exemption for unvaccinated players.
It’s been revealed that the Department of Health sent Tiley two letters in November stipulating that a COVID infection in the past six months would not satisfy entry requirements for unvaccinated players.
It’s believed the world No.1 men’s player applied for an exemption on those grounds.
Health Minister Greg Hunt reiterated advice in a letter in late November.
“I can confirm that people who have contracted COVID-19 within the past six months and seek to enter Australia from overseas, and have not received two doses of a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)- approved or TGA-recognised vaccine (or one dose of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine) are not considered fully vaccinated,” Hunt wrote.
The move by the Australian government threatened to cause a diplomatic incident between Canberra and Belgrade.
“I told our Novak that the whole of Serbia is with him and that our bodies are doing everything to see that the harassment of the world’s best tennis player is brought to an end immediately,” Serbia president Aleksandar Vucic posted on Instagram.
“In line with all norms of international law, Serbia will fight for Novak, truth and justice.”
TA faced public outrage over the tournament exemption.
Rod Laver urged Djokovic to tell the public his medical reasoning, fearing repercussions on the court named after him at Melbourne Park.
“I think it might get ugly … if he’s got a reason for (the exemption) then … we should know it,” Laver said.
The polarising Djokovic at least had one player in his corner in American Tennys Sandgren.
The two-time Open quarter-finalist and outspoken anti-vaxxer said the treatment of the world’s top male player meant Australia didn’t deserve to host a grand slam.
Sandgren didn’t enter this year’s tournament, saying he didn’t meet grounds for an exemption.
“Just to be crystal clear here. 2 separate medical boards approved his exemption. And politicians are stopping it. Australia doesn’t deserve to host a grand slam,” Sandgren tweeted.
© AAP 2022