Australian government fails to delay Novak Djokovic’s visa hearing

Novak Djokovic speaks during an interview

A bid by Australian government officials to delay Novak Djokovic’s visa hearing until after the Australian Open draw has been completed, has failed.

The Australian government had hoped to push his hearing to Wednesday, but the home affairs minister, Karen Andrews, who submitted for the extension was left disappointed as the presiding judge, Judge Anthony Kelly, rejected the change of date.

However, Kelly hasn’t completely thrown the case out, he allowed the government to submit for another extension on Monday to delay the hearing.

The Serbian is currently being detained and under strict instructions to stay at Melbourne’s Park Hotel which houses refugees and asylum seekers, after he was refused entry into the country following a mix-up with his visa and scrutiny over his reasons for being granted a medical exemption.

The 20 time Grand Slam winner’s lawyers have claimed that he had a medical exemption due to him returning a positive test within the last six months as he became infected with the virus on December 16, despite Tennis Australia being previously adamant that all players and staff must be fully vaccinated in order to play in event in the country.

His lawyers also claim that the 34-year-old was given a letter from the Chief Medical Officer of Tennis Australia officially saying that he had a medical exemption from the Covid-19 vaccine which was “provided by an Independent Expert Medical Review panel commissioned by Tennis Australia” and “the decision of that panel had been reviewed and endorsed by an independent Medical Exemptions Review Panel of the Victorian State Government.”

Further to this the nine time Australian Open champion’s legal team additionally claimed that he was granted an Australian Travel Declaration which means he was informed by Australian authorities that he could travel quarantine-free into the country.

Tennis Australia told the Federal Circuit Court on Thursday that it would need to know the outcome of Djokovic’s situation soon as they want to know whether he’ll be defending his title at the Australian Open or not.

Judge Kelly said the court would not be rushed on making a decision, stating: “The tail won’t be wagging the dog here.”

Refugee advocates gather outside the Park Hotel on Friday in Melbourne
Novak Djokovic is being detained at a state-run quarantine facility in Melbourne which also houses asylum seekers (Meg Hill/PA)

On Friday, it emerged that two other people connected to the tournament have joined Djokovic in being instructed to leave the country by the Australian Border Force.

One of them being Czech player Renata Voracova, best known for her doubles performances, who opted to leave Australia and pull out of a warm-up tournament in Melbourne this week.

Djokovic eventually spoke on his situation on Instagram, saying: “Thank you to people around the world for your continuous support. I can feel it and it is greatly appreciated.”

His hearing is scheduled for Monday.