Novak Djokovic: Tennis star detained ahead of deportation appeal

UniqueThis 14 Jan 14
Image caption,
Djokovic is still scheduled to play in the Australian Open in Melbourne on Monday

Novak Djokovic has been detained in Australia ahead of a court hearing that will determine whether the unvaccinated tennis star can stay in the country.

The Serbian faces deportation after his visa was cancelled for a second time, with the government labelling the 34-year-old a threat to public health.

His lawyers are appealing against what they called an "irrational" judgement, with the hearing set for Sunday.

Djokovic is still scheduled to play the Australian Open on Monday in Melbourne.

If he were to win the tournament, he would become the most successful men's tennis player in the history of the sport with 21 major titles.

But Sunday's hearing, which has been scheduled for 09:30 local time (22:30 GMT on Saturday), is crucial if Djokovic is to be able to compete just hours later.

If he loses the appeal, the world's top-ranked men's tennis player faces deportation and a three-year visa ban.

On Saturday, shortly after an online procedural hearing, Djokovic's lawyers confirmed that he would spend the night in immigration detention at an undisclosed location in Melbourne.

At that hearing, Justice David O'Callaghan set the time for Sunday's proceeding but said it was yet to be decided whether it would be heard by a single judge or a full court of three.

Court documents were released later on Saturday that showed Immigration Minister Alex Hawke chose to cancel Djokovic's visa because - in his view - the unvaccinated player's presence could fuel opposition to Covid-19 vaccination.

"[I] consider that his presence may be a risk to the health of the Australian community," he wrote in a letter to Djokovic and his lawyers, adding that he believed it could also provoke "civil unrest" because he is "a person of influence and status".

Djokovic's visa was first revoked shortly after his arrival in Melbourne on 6 January, after Australian Border Force officials said he had "failed to provide appropriate evidence" to receive a vaccine exemption.

The tennis star was detained for days at an immigration hotel, before his visa was reinstated by a judge, who ordered his release, ruling that border officials ignored correct procedure when he arrived.

But on Friday evening, Mr Hawke once again cancelled Djokovic's visa under separate powers in Australia's Migration Act.

The act allows him to deport anyone he deems a potential risk to "the health, safety or good order of the Australian community".

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the decision followed "careful consideration".

Alluding to the heavy criticism his government has faced for allowing the unvaccinated player into Australia, Mr Morrison said: "Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected."

Image caption,
Photographers tried to catch a glimpse of Novak Djokovic in Melbourne on Saturday

Simon Atkinson, BBC News in Melbourne

Minutes after we started reporting the news of Djokovic's second visa cancellation, motorists leaned from car windows, honking their horns and shouting their approval.

Most people I've spoken to are pretty outraged that an unvaccinated player was ever allowed here in the first place.

Others have a more nuanced view. Sure, this is a shambles, they say, but the government overturning the ruling of an independent judge is pretty questionable too.

It's clear, then, that this is not just about sport. It's headline news and a major topic of conversation.

And the background is important, too, as Australia struggles with Covid-19.

Many people are getting jabbed after months of living under strict restrictions. Intensive care wards are filling up, daily deaths have hit record levels, and some might say you've got less chance of finding a Covid test kit in a pharmacy than Djokovic has of playing on Monday.

Given the seriousness of the Omicron wave, there's another sentiment that you hear often: this drawn-out saga has become a distraction from far more important issues.

Djokovic's legal team say their grounds for appeal will centre on the "invalid" rationale of Mr Hawke's decision, which lawyer Nick Wood said was based on the threat of "exciting anti-vax sentiment".

Mr Wood said he believed deporting the Serbian player would potentially do the same thing.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, meanwhile, condemned the Australian minister's decision, telling Djokovic in an Instagram message: "Novak, we stand by you."

"If you wanted to ban Novak Djokovic from winning the 10th trophy in Melbourne why didn't you return him immediately, why didn't you tell him 'it is impossible to obtain a visa'?" Mr Vucic added.

Spanish tennis star Rafael, one of Djokovic's biggest rivals, said on Saturday: "[The] Australian Open is much more important than any player. If he's playing finally, okay. If he's not playing, the Australian Open will be great… with or without him."

Japanese player Naomi Osaka described the controversy surrounding Djokovic as "an unfortunate situation".

"He's such a great player and it's kind of sad that some people might remember [him] in this way. But I also think it's... up to the government how Australia is deciding to handle it," she said.

Media caption,
"If he plays, I will not watch him": Watch strong reactions on the Novak Djokovic case in Australia

U.S. adds just 194,000 jobs in September; Annual yard sale funds woman's random acts of kindness
0 comments
An investigation into the timeline of the events which led to the spill is underway.
0 comments
As India's brutal second coronavirus wave ravaged the country this spring, Ankit Srivastava went from hospital to hospital, trying to find help for his ailing mother.
0 comments
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell on Friday warned President Joe Biden he should not expect cooperation on raising the debt ceiling again, a day after he voted with Democrats to overcome a&h...
0 comments
Seven Senate Republicans defied former President Donald Trump by voting to convict him for inciting an insurrection after losing the 2020 election. But eight months later, they're largely respondin...
0 comments
The best Dyson air purifier deals will help you grab a bargain on models that usually boast a notoriously premium price.
0 comments
With these common air purifier myths debunked, you’ll have a better understanding of how they work to remove airborne particles.
0 comments
Apparently, HBO's drunk robot show is filming another run of episodes. Here's everything we know.
0 comments
Kanye West got no VIP treatment at the airport.
0 comments
MLB announcer Jim Kaat is apologizing for making a slavery reference during Yoán Moncada's at-bat on Friday.
0 comments
R. Kelly victim Faith Rodgers says he was not railroaded and threatened her for coming out against him.
0 comments
MILAN -- With Italy’s vaccination campaign now advanced, the government has finally given the green light for nightclubs to reopen next week. It’s been a long wait.Glasses remain stacked upside dow...
0 comments
A peeling portrait of Polish piano composer Frederic Chopin purchased at a flea market hung modestly in a private house in Poland for almost three decades before an expert dated the painting to the...
0 comments
A new lava flow has belched out from the La Palma volcano, and it threatens to spread more destruction on the Atlantic Ocean island where molten rock streams have already engulfed over 1,000 buildings
0 comments
Learn which types of produce are in season this October and what to cook with them! You'll find plenty of healthy seasonal recipes here.
0 comments
The White House has informed the National Archives that it is not asserting executive privilege on an initial batch of documents related to the January 6 violence at the US Capitol, paving the way ...
0 comments
Why "Ted Lasso's" Rebecca and Keeley are among TV's best female friends of all-time, Apple TV's "Acapulco," and the skits we'd love to see as Kim Kardashian is set to host "Saturday Night Live."
0 comments
Gov. Inslee receives some choice words from a state trooper signing off ahead of Monday.
0 comments
Hooters has caved on the new pantie bottoms they wanted their girls to wear.
0 comments
The British spy who collected the "pee tape" intel speaks out publicly.
0 comments
The couple that's been all about each other are going to be man and wife!
0 comments
The veteran TV actor talks all the details about 'Grey's Anatomy' and 'You,' from making television during the pandemic to keeping his big return to 'Grey's' under wraps.
0 comments
The hotly anticipated return of the singer led to tears, personal confessions, and memes.
0 comments
Wondering what the benefits of yoga are? Read on to discover the answers.
0 comments
Perfect for every skill level and budget, these are the best microscopes for kids right now
0 comments
It went down 66 million years ago.
0 comments
Can we save Earth by bombing space?
0 comments
“As soon as this work project gets done.” “As soon as we get more settled in.” “As soon as I’m done planning this event.” “As soon as the kids are older.” How commonly do we offer these postponemen...
0 comments
Amid mounting pressure from players and advocacy groups, Major League Baseball will require teams to provide housing for minor league players starting in 2022, it was announced.
0 comments
Outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. can't help his Braves teammates on the field as he recovers from knee surgery, but he was on the field before Sunday's Game 2 of the NLCS, embracing his role as cheerlea...
0 comments
Garrett Temple and the New Orleans Pelicans, who've said that the upcoming "season is dedicated to the victims of Hurricane Ida," practiced Saturday at Nicholls State University in the torn town of...
0 comments
With head coach Kliff Kingsbury back home in Arizona after a positive COVID-19 test, the Cardinals kept their offense on track in a dominating 37-14 win over the Cleveland Browns on the road on Sun...
0 comments
Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott, who will undergo an MRI Monday for a right calf injury he suffered on his game-winning touchdown pass to CeeDee Lamb Sunday in overtime against New England, believe...
0 comments
Danny "D.J." Rodriguez, who was arrested after he was identified in a HuffPost story, called himself a "f**king piece of s**t" during his interview with the FBI.
0 comments
Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin said the GOP senator "never used to be this insane."
0 comments
Persistent concerns about Aduhelm, the disease's first new treatment in about 20 years, are curbing access more than four months after regulators approved it.
0 comments
Loading...