Novak Djokovic news: The world No 1 returns to detention ahead of appeal hearing

Novak Djokovic looking on

Novak Djokovic has returned to the Park Hotel in Melbourne where he is being detained for a second time, ahead of his appeal hearing against the re-cancellation of his visa which is due to take place on Sunday morning.

It was announced on Friday that the Immigration Minister, Alex Hawke, was going to use his personal powers to cancel the Serb’s visa on the grounds of “health and good order.”

This decision was like a cloud looming over the heads of Djokovic and his lawyers as they knew Hawke had this power ever since the world No 1 was released from detention on Monday but it was four days until the minister decided he was going to take this action.

A short hearing was held on Saturday morning where the new judge, Justice David O’Callaghan, confirmed that Djokovic’s case had been transferred from the Federal Circuit Court and set the time for the main appeal hearing at 9.30am on Sunday (10.30pm on Saturday GMT.)

Even if the 20 time Grand Slam winner was to be successful in court once again, this doesn’t leave him a lot of time to get prepared for his opening round match at the Australian Open as he’s due to play on Monday with his opponent being fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic.

However, unlike the last time he was detained which was just over a week ago when he arrived in the country on January 6, the detention wouldn’t be a shock to the tennis player as this time around a timetable was arranged on Friday and it was agreed Djokovic would be detained on Saturday morning at 8am to have a meeting with immigration officials before speaking with his lawyers.

The reigning Australian Open champion has decided to appeal the re-cancellation of his visa as he believes it was affected by jurisdictional error and was irrational.

Hawke’s efforts to deport Djokovic could prove to be pointless though as it’s considered the 34-year-old has a higher chance of success this time around as it was revealed that the Immigration Minister based his decision that the Serbian staying in the country could invigorate anti-vaxxers in the country and this would therefore be a threat to public order, not on the validity of his medical exemption.

The Australian official described the six time Wimbledon champion as a: “high profile unvaccinated individual, who has indicated publicly that he is opposed to becoming vaccinated against Covid-19” and said he had “publicly expressed anti-vaccination sentiment.
“I consider that his ongoing presence in Australia may pose a risk to the good order of the Australian community.
“I have also given consideration to the fact that Mr Djokovic has, in the past, shown an apparent disregard for the need to isolate following the receipt of a positive Covid-19 test result,” he added.
The Olympic bronze medallist admitted that he took part in an interview last month with French newspaper L’Equipe at his tennis centre in Belgrade despite knowing his PCR test came back positive.

Photographers attempt to take a picture outside a building that houses the office of Novak Djokovic's lawyers
Photographers take pictures outside a building that houses the office of Novak Djokovic’s lawyers (Mark Baker/AP)

This has led to Hawke fearing of the possibility of civil unrest which was highlighted on Monday when Djokovic emerged from detention to fans who were waiting outside the Park Hotel but this resulted in the Police pepper spraying them – but the tennis star’s lawyers will argue that the same civil unrest Australian officials are scared of could also happen if their client is deported.

Hawke released a statement on Friday outlining his reasons why he cancelled Djokovic’s visa again, but has refuted suggestions that it was politically motivated or could jeopardise the country hosting the season opening Grand Slam.

“Today I exercised my power under section 133C(3) of the Migration Act to cancel the visa held by Mr Novak Djokovic on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so,” he said.

“This decision followed orders by the Federal Circuit and Family Court on 10 January 2022, quashing a prior cancellation decision on procedural fairness grounds.

“In making this decision, I carefully considered information provided to me by the Department of Home Affairs, the Australian Border Force and Mr Djokovic – the Morrison Government is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

If Djokovic loses the appeal hearing he could also face a three-year-ban from the country, and dependent on his fitness in the next few years he could never play in the Australian Open again, however this ban could be waived.

This story has kept people around the world hooked ever since the Serbian was refused entry into the country last Thursday when he was told he didn’t have the right visa.

Australian Open Djokovic
Novak Djokovic has been training in Melbourne (Mark Baker/AP)

Tennis Australia had given him an exemption from the strict coronavirus vaccination rules that were normally needed on arrival into the country as he’d tested positive for the virus in the last six weeks.

Czech player Renata Voracova and an official who had this same exemption were told to leave the country and has already gone by the time Djokovic was told by Judge Anthony Kelly that he could stay.

Novak Djokovic could be detained back at the Park hotel on Saturday
The Park hotel, where Djokovic has again been detained (Hamish Blair/AP)

The Australian Government has been heavily criticised in their handling of this situation, however the public opinion in Australia and across the world is that Djokovic should be sent home and not allowed to play in the Australian Open.