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Novak Djokovic can stay in Australia and play, Federal court overturns govt order to cancel his Visa

Sports News by NRI Herald Australia 10 Jan 2022

Left: Novak Djokovic , Right: Scott Morrison

The court ordered the government to release him from detention and restore a visa.

Tennis legend Novak Djokovic has won his legal fight against the Australian government in an Australian court. As per reports, Djokovic’s deportation order has been overturned by the Federal Circuit Court in Australia.

Novak Djokovic, the Serbian tennis star, won a legal victory on Monday in his bid to avoid deportation from Australia, as a judge ordered the government to release him from detention and restore a visa it had canceled because Djokovic has not been vaccinated for Covid-19.

The ruling, approving an agreement between the two parties, came five days after Djokovic was detained at an airport upon arrival on a flight to Melbourne from Dubai. He was hoping to defend his title at the Australian Open, which he has won a record nine times.

Djokovic arrived with a visa and a vaccination exemption to play in the tournament, which begins Jan. 17, but border officials canceled the visa with the support of Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The authorities said that Djokovic did not qualify for an exemption from the requirement that everyone entering the country be fully vaccinated.

While Monday’s ruling seemed to open the door for him to compete, the government warned that it may cancel his visa a second time even after the court’s decision.

On multiple occasions, Djokovic has stated his opposition to vaccine mandates, saying that vaccination is a private and personal decision. He had not, however, revealed until last week whether he had been vaccinated.

In a court filing on Saturday, Djokovic’s lawyers said that the tennis star had tested positive for the coronavirus in mid-December, and that he had been granted a vaccination exemption by Australian tennis officials on these grounds. In court on Monday, the lawyers argued that the Australian government had erred in canceling Djokovic’s visa over the vaccine requirement.

As per the reports published in The New York times. Anthony Kelly, the federal court judge overseeing Djokovic’s appeal, scrutinized a transcript of the tennis player’s interaction with border officials at the airport, pointing out that he was “incommunicado” from 4 a.m., when he complied with an order to turn off his cellphone.

The judge noted that Djokovic’s visa application had included the medical exemption from a physician, supported by an independent panel convened by the state government in Victoria, which includes Melbourne.

He also seemed to accept that Djokovic was confused about what had gone wrong, and eager to resolve the issue.

“The point I’m somewhat agitated about is, what more could this man have done?” Judge Kelly said.

The federal government’s lawyers said Monday that Djokovic could be denied entry if he presented a risk to public health. No visitors to Australia are guaranteed admittance upon arrival, and all are subject to further checks at the border, the government argued in court filings, adding that past Covid-19 infections were no longer a valid reason to defer immunization against the virus.

Critics of Australia’s immigration policies said they were dismayed, but not surprised. The hotel where Djokovic is staying holds dozens of refugees, including some who have been detained for nearly a decade.

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