Djokovic’s court hearing on deportation appeal ends, verdict expected soon

The court hearing on tennis star Novak Djokovic’s appeal against deportation to Australia ended on Sunday and a verdict was expected within hours. Federal Court Chief Justice James Olsop said he and two fellow judges hoped for a verdict later Sunday. The top-ranked male tennis player needs to win an appeal to defend his Australian Open title in a game starting on Monday. Djokovic’s visa was revoked by the Australian government on Friday due to issues surrounding his stance on the Covid-19 vaccine.

Djokovic returned to court on Sunday to fight an attempt to deport him because a government minister described the tennis player as a “talisman of the anti-vaccination community”.

The three federal court judges are expected to hear the entire case in a single day so that the men’s No. 1-ranked tennis player and nine-time Australian Open champion can begin his title defense at the first Grand Slam tennis tournament of the year on Monday.

Djokovic spent Saturday night at an immigration detention hotel when he and his lawyers met with immigration officials earlier in the day. Television footage showed the 34-year-old Serb wearing a face mask as he sat in a vehicle near the hotel on Sunday morning.

He is allowed to leave the hotel to spend Sunday in his lawyers’ office under the protection of two immigration officials, while the challenge is heard via video conference.

Djokovic spent four nights at a hotel near downtown Melbourne before being released last Monday after Djokovic won a challenge in court on procedural grounds against his first visa cancellation.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke blocked the visa on Friday, which was originally revoked when he landed at Melbourne Airport on January 5.

Deportation from Australia can carry a three-year ban on repatriation, although it can be waived depending on the circumstances.

On Sunday, Federal Chief Justice James Olsop gave reasons for rejecting Hawk’s argument that the case needs to be heard by a single judge.

Olsop cited Hawk’s own words that the issues behind his decision to revoke the visa “go a long way in preserving the lives and health of many members of the community.”

A three-judge ruling is less likely to be appealed than a one-judge decision.

Djokovic could not appeal the decision on Sunday or Monday to participate in the Australian Open in a timely manner, Olsop said.

Djokovic’s lawyers filed documents in court in which Hawke said the tennis star was “considered by some to be the amulet of the anti-vaccination community.”

Australia has one of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the world.

The minister said Djokovic’s presence in Australia could be a threat to the health and “good governance” of Australians and could be “hostile to vaccination efforts by others in Australia”.

The health department advised that Djokovic had a “low” risk of contracting Kovid-19 and a “very low” risk of contracting the disease at the Australian Open.

The minister cited Djokovic’s comments in April 2020 that he “opposes vaccination” and did not want to be forced to take a vaccine to compete.

Djokovic’s lawyers argued that the minister had not provided any evidence that Djokovic’s presence in Australia “could provoke anti-vaccination sentiment.”

Hundreds of activists rallied peacefully outside the Melbourne Park complex to host the Australian Open, and planned another for Monday.

“We are at the Road Laver Arena to support Novak. He has won nine (Australian Open) titles here. Hopefully this will be the number 10 – if he can get out of quarantine and get his visa back, “said Harrison McLean, one of the organizers of the rally. “

Sydney-based immigration lawyer Simon Jeans said he was surprised Djokovic was granted a visa because of his COVID-19 infection last month, which would not have exempted him from strict Australian rules or medical reasons unless foreign visitors needed to be vaccinated. They can’t be.

“The unanswered question is, if Djokovic was such a threat to good governance, why give him a visa in November?” Jeans asked. “This is a high-risk strategy. It will be more difficult for the minister to persuade the three judges. What he did was in the public interest.”

Djokovic, who has won the last three Australian Open titles, is aiming for a record 21st Grand Slam singles title. He is currently linked with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, one of the most influential people in history.

In a post on social media on Wednesday that made his most widespread public comments on the episode, Djokovic blamed his agent for checking the wrong box on his travel document, calling it “human error and certainly not intentional.”

In the same post, Djokovic said he went ahead with an interview and photo shoot with a French newspaper in Serbia despite knowing he would test positive for the Covid-19. Djokovic is trying to use a positive test taken on December 16 to justify medical exemption that would allow him to avoid the need for a vaccine based on the fact that he already has COVID-19.

Revoking Djokovic’s visa, Hawke said Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government was “firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, especially in relation to the COVID-19 epidemic.”

The episode has touched the nerves in Australia and especially in the state of Victoria, where locals went through more than 260 days of lockdown during the worst epidemic.

Australia is facing a sharp rise in cases of viruses operated by highly contagious Omicron variants. On Friday, 130,000 new cases were reported in the country, including about 35,000 in the state of Victoria. Although many infected people do not become as ill as in previous outbreaks, the increase is still putting serious strain on the health system and disrupting the supply chain.

Djokovic’s supporters in Serbia are upset over visa cancellations. Serbian President Alexander Vuકેiકે accused the Australian government of “persecuting” and “abusing” Djokovic and asked if Morrison’s government was trying to gain political points before the next election.

“Why didn’t you return it immediately, or tell him it was impossible to get a visa?” Vusic asked the Australian authorities in a social media address. “Why do you bother him and why not just abuse him, but his family and the whole nation who feel independent and proud.”

Everyone needs to be vaccinated at the Australian Open.

According to Grand Slam rules, if Djokovic is forced to withdraw from the tournament before the 1-day game order is announced, No. 5 seed Andrei Rublev will replace Djokovic in the brackets.

If Djokovic withdraws from the tournament after Monday’s schedule is announced, he is known on the field as a “lucky loser” – a player who loses in a qualifying tournament but is eliminated by another player before the competition. Has started.

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