Djokovic back in immigration detention in Australia - GulfToday

Djokovic back in immigration detention in Australia

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Novak Djokovic wipes the sweat from his brow during a practice session in Melbourne on Wednesday. AFP

Gulf Today Report

Novak Djokovic will spend Saturday night in immigration detention before the world's tennis number one seeks a court ruling to stop his deportation and keep alive his bid for a record 21st major title at the Australian Open.

Djokovic was reported to be back in immigration detention after his legal challenge to avoid being deported from Australia for being unvaccinated for COVID-19 was moved to a higher court.

Djokovic arrived at the Park Hotel, the same immigration detention hotel where he was held last week, just before 3:30pm (0430 GMT), according to a Reuters witness.


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About a dozen refugee activists were chanting as Djokovic and Border Force guards drove into the underground garage of the hotel, which is also being used to hold 33 asylum seekers and travellers in COVID-19 quarantine.

A Federal Court hearing has been scheduled for Sunday, a day before the men’s No. 1-ranked tennis player and nine-time Australian Open champion was due to begin his title defense at the first Grand Slam tennis tournament of the year.

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Novak Djokovic holds an Australian Open champion trophy for a photograph. File photo

Police closed down a lane behind the building where Djokovic’s lawyers are based and two vehicles exited the building mid-afternoon local time on Saturday. In television footage, Djokovic could be seen wearing a face mask in the back of a vehicle near an immigration detention hotel.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke decided to cancel the Serbian superstar's visa because his presence could foster opposition to COVID-19 vaccination in Australia, court documents released after an initial hearing in the Federal Court on Saturday showed.

"Although I ... accept that Mr Djokovic poses a negligible individual risk of transmitting COVID-19 to other persons, I nonetheless consider that his presence may be a risk to the health of the Australian community," Hawke said in a letter to Djokovic and his legal team.

This explanation in Djokovic's affidavit is more detailed than the brief statement Hawke released on Friday, which said his decision was based on "health and good order grounds".

Justice David O'Callaghan set a hearing on Djokovic's appeal for 9:30am on Sunday (2230 GMT on Saturday), with the question of whether it would be held before a single judge or a full court still to be determined.

The controversy has overshadowed the traditional build-up to the Grand Slam event, and players were tiring of the saga.

 

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