© Reuters. Serbian tennis participant Novak Djokovic practices on Rod Laver Enviornment forward of the 2022 Australian Open at Melbourne Park, in Melbourne, Australia, January 11, 2022. Kelly Defina/Pool through REUTERS
By Sonali Paul and Sudipto Ganguly
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Novak Djokovic will spend Saturday evening in immigration detention earlier than the world’s tennis primary seeks a court docket ruling to cease his deportation and hold alive his bid for a document 21st main title on the Australian Open.
Djokovic arrived on the Park Resort, the identical immigration detention resort the place he was held final week, simply earlier than 3:30 pm (0430 GMT), based on a Reuters witness.
A few dozen refugee activists had been chanting as Djokovic and Border Pressure guards drove into the underground storage of the resort, which can be getting used to carry 33 asylum seekers and travellers in COVID-19 quarantine.
Will probably be a second stint in detention for Djokovic, who spent his first 4 nights in Australia in resort detention earlier than a choose freed him on Monday after discovering a choice to cancel his visa on arrival had been unreasonable.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke determined to cancel the Serbian celebrity’s visa as a result of his presence might foster opposition to COVID-19 vaccination in Australia, court docket paperwork launched after an preliminary listening to within the Federal Court docket on Saturday confirmed.
“Though I … settle for that Mr Djokovic poses a negligible particular person danger of transmitting COVID-19 to different individuals, I nonetheless take into account that his presence could also be a danger to the well being of the Australian neighborhood,” Hawke stated in a letter to Djokovic and his authorized crew.
This clarification in Djokovic’s affidavit is extra detailed than the transient assertion Hawke launched on Friday, which stated his choice was primarily based on “well being and good order grounds”.
Justice David O’Callaghan set a listening to on Djokovic’s enchantment for 9:30 a.m. on Sunday (2230 GMT on Saturday), with the query of whether or not it will be held earlier than a single choose or a full court docket nonetheless to be decided.
Djokovic’s legal professionals stated on Friday they’d argue deportation would solely additional fan anti-vaccine sentiment and can be as a lot a risk to dysfunction and public well being as letting him keep and exempting him from Australia’s requirement that each one guests be vaccinated.
A court docket order on Friday evening had required the 34-year-old to give up to immigration officers for an interview on Saturday morning, earlier than he can be taken to his legal professionals’ officers for the preliminary listening to. After leaving his legal professionals, he was to be taken into immigration detention.
Border Pressure and the immigration minister’s workplace didn’t instantly reply to requests for touch upon whether or not Djokovic had attended the interview.
The federal government has stated it will not deport Djokovic till his enchantment has been heard. Djokovic desires to have the ability defend his title on the Australian Open, which begins on Monday.
PLAYERS TIRE OF SAGA
The controversy has overshadowed the standard build-up to the Grand Slam occasion, and gamers had been tiring of the saga.
“Truthfully I am little bit uninterested in the scenario as a result of I simply imagine that it is necessary to speak about our sport, about tennis,” Spaniard Rafa Nadal, who’s tied on 20 main titles with Djokovic, informed reporters at Melbourne Park, the place the occasion will probably be performed.
German Alexander Zverev, the world quantity three, stated Djokovic had been handled unfairly and that the Serb might need been used as a political pawn by Australian authorities, one thing Canberra has denied.
Djokovic’s medical exemption from vaccine necessities to play the Open prompted monumental anger in Australia, which has undergone some the world’s hardest COVID-19 lockdowns and the place greater than 90% of adults are vaccinated, however hospitalisation charges proceed to hit document highs.
With international scientists and policymakers targeted on vaccinating as many individuals as doable to finish the pandemic, the refusal of Djokovic to get the jab has fuelled the anti-vaccination motion, particularly in his native Serbia and surrounding international locations.
The controversy over the tennis participant has grow to be a political touchstone for Prime Minister Scott Morrison as he prepares for an election due by Could.
His authorities has received assist at residence for its robust stance on border safety in the course of the pandemic, nevertheless it has confronted criticism for its dealing with of Djokovic’s visa software.
Djokovic, scheduled to play fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovi within the first spherical of the Open, is searching a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title. However as a substitute of hitting Rod Laver Enviornment on Monday, he may very well be deported on a flight out of Melbourne.
He has the choice of withdrawing and leaving Australia of his personal accord.
“Australian Open is far more necessary than any participant,” stated Nadal, whom Djokovic considers his biggest rival on a tennis court docket.
“If he is enjoying lastly, OK. If he is not enjoying, Australian Open will probably be nice … with or with out him.”
(This story corrects variety of main titles to 20, not 21, in paragraph 14)