Djokovic appeal adjourned as judges consider verdict

Judges hearing Novak Djokovic’s appeal at the Federal Court in Melbourne said an update would be given on Sunday afternoon local time; Djokovic will begin his Australian Open defence against Miomir Kecmanovic at Rod Laver Arena on Monday night – if he wins appeal

Last Updated: 16/01/22 6:32am

Novak Djokovic has been in court appealing a decision to revoke his Australian visa
Novak Djokovic has been in court appealing a decision to revoke his Australian visa

Novak Djokovic’s appeal against deportation has been adjourned, with judges saying a decision is expected before the Australian Open begins on Monday.

Judges hearing the case at the Federal Court building in Melbourne said that an update would be given during Sunday afternoon local time.

Chief Justice James Allsop said the court would reconvene with a ruling anytime “this afternoon or perhaps tomorrow morning (Monday morning local time)”.

He said: “We would hope to be in a position to identify to the parties later in the afternoon what the course is that we propose.”

Djokovic to play on Monday night – if he wins appeal

The Australian Open match schedule has been released and – should he win his appeal – Djokovic will play his first round match on Monday evening.

He will face fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic at Rod Laver Arena, organisers said, pending a court decision.

Djokovic, world No 1 and nine-time Australian Open champion, has had a chaotic 10 days – he was detained by immigration authorities on his arrival in Australia, released, then detained again.

His visa was cancelled shortly after his arrival, but that decision was set aside by a judge, before immigration minister Alex Hawke decided it should be cancelled after all.

It is against Mr Hawke’s decision that Djokovic is appealing.

‘A talisman of a community of anti-vaccine sentiment’

Mr Hawke had said that, while Djokovic’s recent COVID-19 infection meant he was a “negligible risk to those around him”, he was also “perceived by some as a talisman of a community of anti-vaccine sentiment”.

Mr Hawke said the 34-year-old Serb’s presence in Australia “may lead to an increase in anti-vaccination sentiment generated in the Australian community, potentially leading to an increase in civil unrest of the kind previously experienced in Australia with rallies and protests which may themselves be a source of community transmission”.

The minister cited comments Djokovic made in April 2020 saying he was “opposed to vaccination” and wouldn’t want to have to be vaccinated to compete.

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Djokovic leaves his hotel in Melbourne for the appeal hearing as he bids to avoid being deported from Australia
Djokovic leaves his hotel in Melbourne for the appeal hearing as he bids to avoid being deported from Australia

But the player’s lawyer, Nick Wood, said the minister was relying on “historic views” and that Djokovic’s current views had not been sought.

Mr Wood said: “This implies the minister contemplated doing so but decided not to. But it also implies that the minister, therefore, doesn’t know what Djokovic’s views currently are.”

Mr Wood said the statements attributed to the tennis player in news articles were made before COVID-19 vaccines were developed.

He also said that anti-vax sentiment would be just as likely to be prompted by the decision to cancel the tennis player’s visa as it would by allowing him to stay and play.

The minister was ‘entitled to assume’ it was Djokovic’s choice not to be vaccinated

Representing the immigration minister, Stephen Lloyd said the material supplied to Mr Hawke had “permitted him to assume” that Djokovic had a temporary reason not to have been vaccinated: he had been infected with the virus in mid-December.

But Mr Lloyd said this did not explain why Djokovic had not been vaccinated before that, adding that the minister was “entitled to assume it was his choice (not to be vaccinated)”.

“That choice,” he said, “makes a broader inference as to his views on vaccinations against COVID-19.”

Mr Lloyd added that the minister’s primary concern was that Djokovic’s “presence would encourage people to emulate his position and that would put the health of Australians at risk”.

“His connection to a cause – whether he wants it or not – is still present.”

The hearing was done via video and Djokovic was present at his lawyer’s office but did not appear on camera.

Novak Djokovic – Sequence of events

January 4 – Djokovic announces he will be travelling to Australia with an ‘exemption permission’.
January 5 – While Djokovic is airborne, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the athlete will be on the “next plane home” if he cannot provide “acceptable proof” that his exemption is legitimate.
Acting Sports Minister Jaala Pulford highlights that the local government of Victoria, where the Australian Open is held, will not support Djokovic’s visa application.
The world No 1 arrives at Melbourne Airport around 11.30pm local time.
January 6 – Around 3.15am, Djokovic’s father reports that his son is being held in isolation in Melbourne Airport.
At 5am, Goran Ivanisevic releases an image on social media of himself and another member of Djokovic’s team seemingly waiting for the world No 1. The post is captioned, ‘Not the most usual trip Down Under’.
Around 8.15am local time, Djokovic’s visa is confirmed to have been denied by the Australian Border Force.
Djokovic is moved to quarantine hotel while his legal team appeal visa cancellation.
The appeal against his visa cancellation is adjourned until Monday (Jan 10) morning Australian time.
January 7 – Australia Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews says Djokovic is “free to leave any time” and is not being detained.
Djokovic breaks silence in Instagram post on Friday, thanking his fans for their “continuous support”.
January 8 – Submission from Djokovic’s lawyers on Saturday reveals positive Covid-19 test in December.
January 9 – Home Affairs Minister Andrews has a submission to delay the hearing until Wednesday (Jan 12) rejected by Judge Anthony Kelly.
Submission from Australian government lawyers says Djokovic had not been given an assurance he would be allowed to enter the country with his medical exemption.
January 10 – Djokovic wins appeal. Judge Anthony Kelly quashes visa cancellation, and orders the Australian Government to pay legal costs and release Djokovic from detention.
Djokovic takes to social media to confirm that he remains intent on competing at the Australian Open.
January 12 – Djokovic posts on Instagram admitting to making an “error of judgement” by attending an interview and photoshoot with a French newspaper after testing positive for Covid-19 last month.
January 14 – Novak Djokovic faces deportation after the Australian government revoked his visa for a second time.
January 15 – The case is transferred to the Federal Court of Australia and the appeal hearing is officially set for 9:30 local time on Sunday (Jan 16) morning.
January 16 – Djokovic’s appeal against deportation has been adjourned, with judges saying a decision is expected before the Australian Open begins on Monday

Source : Sky Sports