Clinging to his dream of winning a record 21st major title at the Australian Open, world number one Novak Djokovic returned to an all-too-familiar immigration detention hotel on Saturday, awaiting the court whether he should be deported.
David O’Callaghan will hear Djokovic’s appeal on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. (10:30 p.m. Saturday, Irish time). The court said the three judges would hear the appeal and their decision would be final.
Djokovic’s lawyers said they would argue the deportation would only fuel anti-vaccine sentiment and be as much of a threat to disorder and public health as letting them be.
According to eyewitnesses, Djokovic arrived at Melbourne’s Park Hotel at around 3.30 pm (4:30 Irish time). This is the same immigration detention hotel where the unvaccinated Serbian superstar was arrested last week over visa problems related to an Ovid-19 medical exemption.
About a dozen refugee activists chanted “Stop the torture… let them out” as Djokovic and Border Force guards entered the hotel’s underground garage, which was used to house 33 asylum seekers and travelers in COVID-19 quarantine. To keep is also being done.
A man cycling past the hotel shouted: “Go home, Novak!”
A Border Force spokesperson confirmed that Djokovic has been taken into custody.
The saga that has been making headlines around the world for the past week may reach a climax on Sunday when a federal court agrees to hear the 34-year-old’s appeal against the Australian government’s second attempt to oust him.
Djokovic has won nine times before this tournament starting on Monday.
Controversy over Djokovic’s visa, his treatment by immigration officials and the government’s handling of the case have almost eclipsed the build-up.
Djokovic, who was detained on arrival, spent his first four nights in hotel detention before a judge released him on Monday because the decision to revoke his visa on arrival was unfair.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke revoked Djokovic’s visa on Friday night, prompting another appeal by the star player’s lawyers.
Court documents released after a preliminary hearing in Federal Court on Saturday showed the minister had justified his decision on the grounds that Djokovic’s presence could fuel anti-vaccination sentiment in Australia at a time when the country is at its worst. in the midst of an outbreak. of viruses.
Hawke said in a letter to Djokovic, “Although I … acknowledge that Mr. Djokovic posed a negligible personal risk of transmitting COVID-19 to other individuals, I still agree that Their presence could be a risk to the health of the Australian community.” and his legal team.
The explanation in Djokovic’s affidavit was more detailed than Hawke’s brief statement released Friday, which said his decision was based on “grounds of health and good order”.
locker room rumblings
Djokovic’s main rivals have become impatient with the uncertainty surrounding the draw and the cloud over their game.
“Honestly I’m a little tired of the situation because I believe it’s important to talk about our sport, about tennis,” Spaniard Rafa Nadal, tied on 20 big titles with Djokovic, told reporters at Melbourne Park. ” will be organized.
World number three German Alexander Zverev said Djokovic had been treated unfairly and the Serb may have been used as a political pawn by the Australian authorities, which Canberra has denied.
“It’s obviously not a good thing for everyone, especially him. But don’t question his legacy because of that,” Zverev said.
A Croatian tennis coach, one of the few spectators who was granted medical exemption for the Australian Open, told The Australian newspaper that he had to leave the country because Djokovic had become a political target.
Philippe Serdarusic, brother and coach of world number 246 Nino Serdarusic, told Zagreb: “No one can be politically strong using my name, but Djokovic is such a high-profile player – that’s why it Everything is happening.” ,
Djokovic’s medical exemption from vaccine requirements to play the Open prompted widespread anger in Australia, which has gone through some of the world’s toughest Covid-19 lockdowns and where more than 90pc of adults are vaccinated but hospitalized. The rate continues to be at a record high.
The controversy over the tennis player has become a political testament to Prime Minister Scott Morrison as he prepares for an election by May.
His government has garnered support at home for its tough stance on border security during the pandemic, but has faced criticism for its handling of Djokovic’s visa application.
Djokovic, who took on fellow Serb Miomir Kekmanovic in the first round of the Open, is on the hunt for a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title. Instead of suffering the humiliation of being deported, he can still withdraw and leave Australia as he pleases.
“The Australian Open is far more important than any player,” Djokovic told his biggest rival, Nadal.
“If he’s playing in the end, fine. If he’s not playing, the Australian Open will be great … with or without him.”