The judge of the Australian Federal Courts, Anthony Kelly, ordered shortly after five in the afternoon of this Monday (local time, seven in the morning in mainland Spain), the immediate release of Novak Djokovic, who remained confined in his room at the Park Hotel, in Melbourne since last Thursday, after the immigration agents who received him at Tullamarine airport canceled his visa when he tried to enter the country without being vaccinated (despite a medical exemption). After this verdict, the Serbian tennis player opens the doors to play the Australian Open that starts on the 17th, and which may allow him to reach the record of 21 wins in Grand Slam tournaments. In fact, he has already returned to training on a track with the intention of racing. “I am happy and grateful that the judge has annulled the cancellation of my visa. Despite everything that has happened, I want to stay and try to compete in the Australian Open. I flew here to play one of the biggest events in front of some incredible fans. “
The Immigration legal services, in any case, may consider withdrawing the visa from Nole, who, at least for the moment, has already had his passport and all his belongings returned. In fact, the Minister of Immigration, Alex Hawke, is evaluating the possibility of exercising the authority that his position gives him in a personal capacity, to cancel Djokovic’s visa again. If that happens, the tennis player could not re-enter Australia in the next three years, according to The Age. Hawke has assured that he will not make a decision until this Tuesday. Meanwhile, Djokovic is at the Melbourne Rialto Tower on Collins Street, where his lawyers are based.
The reason that motivated the magistrate to make the decision to release the tennis player was, basically, that the agents who questioned him after disembarking in the country did not give him the time that they had initially promised to be able to present his argument. “Djokovic was told at 5:20 a.m. last Thursday that he could have until 8:30 a.m. to respond to the notice of cancellation of his visa,” says Judge Kelly. And he specifies: “Later on he was asked for an answer at 6.14 am, and the officers made the decision. [de cancelarle la visa] at 7.42 am. Therefore, the applicant was denied [el plazo] until 8.30 to make some comments ”.
Djokovic landed on Wednesday night to defend the title of champion that he already achieved last year, and it was then that the Border Forces stopped him, noting an irregularity in the medical exemption processed by the Serbian tennis player, and that on paper It should allow him to circumvent the 14 mandatory days of quarantine for any traveler who has not received the complete schedule of vaccination against covid-19.
I’m pleased and grateful that the Judge overturned my visa cancellation. 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. 👇 pic.twitter.com/iJVbMfQ037
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) January 10, 2022
The world tennis number one was released from his arrest a couple of hours before Judge Kelly’s ruling, and was able to follow the hearing through the network, along with his legal team. The hearing started with a slight delay due to some technical problems related to the broadcasting system, which persisted throughout the day.
First it was the turn of Nicholas Wood, the lawyer chosen by Djokovic and his attorneys, whose presentation spanned nearly four hours. Wood’s strategy was based on trying to justify the good behavior of his client, who he said followed the guidelines of the Australian Tennis Federation’s panel of immunization experts at all times. As stated in the documents that were made public on Saturday, the lawyer underlined the fact that Djokovic received the medical exemption from Tennis Australia, that his papers were in order when he boarded the flight that took him from Dubai to Melbourne , and that, once there, he showed the evidence certifying the exemption received.
After a break of just over an hour, it was time for Christopher Tran, the immigration department attorney, who based his offensive on the reports of the Australian Technical Advisory Group of Immunization’s (the Australian advisory group on immunization, ATAGI, for its acronym in English), who defend that vaccination no longer harms those who have been infected with covid-19, as long as they have left the symptoms behind. Djokovic’s lawyers assured that the tennis player tested positive on December 16, although on December 17 he published several images on his social networks in which he is seen in a public act receiving an award, without a mask. According to testimony released by the court, Djokovic stated at Australian customs: “I am a professional tennis player and the main reason for coming to Australia is to participate in the Australian Open in Melbourne. I am not vaccinated. I have passed the covid twice. The first in June 2020 and I have had it again recently. I tested positive in a PCR test on December 16, 2021 ″.
The Vorácová case
On Saturday, Czech tennis player Renata Vorácová did have to leave Australia after the Immigration Department canceled her visa, of the same nature as Djokovic’s; that is, with the medical exemption for the unvaccinated. In this case, the Czech player passed the control and even played a preparation match.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.