Novak Djokovic Threatens Legal Action After Being Detained In Australia
Tennis star Novak Djokovic has had his visa cancelled by Australia, and faces a fight in court to avoid deportation.
Djokovic, the world number one, landed in Melbourne on Wednesday, January 5, after announcing he’d been granted a ‘special exemption’ by Tennis Australia to play in the upcoming Australian Open despite being unvaccinated.
However, in a dramatic turn of events, the Victorian government refused his entry request citing a failure to meet Australia’s Covid vaccination exemption requirements. It is believed Djokovic was relying on a previous Covid infection as his exemption; however, that is it not recognised by the Australian government. Now, his lawyers are working to stop his deportation.
Upon landing, Djokovic was reportedly detained overnight for several hours as border officials questioned him, before ultimately being issued with a letter informing him he would be deported from the country.
In a statement, Australian Border Force (ABF) said, ‘The ABF can confirm that Mr Djokovic failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia, and his visa has subsequently been cancelled.’
According to The Age, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation ‘did not endorse the process that the Victorian Government or Tennis Australia put in place’, a senior federal source said. ‘A travel exemption from the ABF was not requested and the Commonwealth was not engaged. Novak did not provide any proof to validate his claims. This proof could not be verified by ABF until Novak arrived in Australia at the border,’ they added.
Djokovic has since been placed in a government detention hotel, with his lawyers launching an urgent attempt to halt his deportation in court.
The AAP Newswire reports that a federal court judge is considering an application made for an interim injunction to prevent Djokovic from being deported until a final hearing on Monday, January 10. Both parties are expected to submit evidence over the weekend, The Guardian reports.
The decision by Tennis Australia to grant Djokovic a medical exemption allowing him to participate in the tournament, where he is defending champion, had been met with massive backlash among Australians, as people accused the organisation and the government of giving the sports star special treatment.
For much of the past two years Australia has operated some of the world’s strictest pandemic measures, with many citizens stranded abroad after the government banned most travel to and from the country.
In a tweet, Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed Djokovic’s visa had been cancelled, saying, ‘Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders. No one is above these rules.’
The situation has provoked outrage in Djokovic’s home country Serbia, with president Aleksandar Vučić saying the country was ‘doing everything to see that the harassment of the world’s best tennis player is brought to an end, immediately’.
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