Australia rushes to file defence of Djokovic ban as court battle looms By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A supporter of Serbian tennis participant Novak Djokovic rallies exterior the Park Hotel, the place the star athlete is believed to be held whereas he stays in Australia, in Melbourne, Australia, January 7, 2022. REUTERS/Loren Elliott/File Photo


By Courtney Walsh and Byron Kaye

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australian authorities scrambled on Sunday to file a authorized defence of their resolution to bar entry to tennis world primary Novak Djokovic over his COVID-19 vaccination standing, as the Serbian celebrity spent his fourth day in immigration detention.


Djokovic hoped to win his twenty first Grand Slam on the Australian Open, beginning subsequent week, however as an alternative of coaching has been confined to a resort used to accommodate asylum seekers. He is difficult the choice to cancel his visa after being stopped on arrival at Melbourne Airport early on Thursday.

A vocal opponent of vaccine mandates, Djokovic had declined to reveal his vaccination standing or motive for searching for a medical exemption from Australia’s vaccine guidelines. He broke his silence on Saturday with a authorized problem saying he had been granted an exemption due to contracting – and recovering from – the virus in December.

The Melbourne drama has rocked world tennis, induced tensions between Serbia and Australia and change into a flashpoint for opponents of vaccine mandates world wide.

Australia says its well being division notified match organising physique Tennis Australia in November {that a} current COVID-19 an infection was not essentially grounds for exemption within the nation, as it’s elsewhere. Djokovic’s lawsuit says the Department of Home Affairs wrote to him this month to say he had happy the necessities to enter the nation.


Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley mentioned in his first media interview because the furore started that his organisation had spoken with federal and state officers for months to make sure the protected passage of gamers.

“Primarily as a result of there’s (so) a lot contradictory info the entire time, each single week we had been speaking to Home Affairs, we had been speaking to all components of authorities to be sure that … we had been doing the correct factor and (following) the correct course of with these exemptions,” Tiley instructed Channel Nine tv.

“The conflicting info, and the contradictory info we obtained, was as a result of of the altering surroundings. We are in a difficult surroundings.”

Home Affairs, which was due to file its defence on Sunday, requested a delay of the matter’s listening to from Monday to Wednesday, a court consultant instructed Reuters. The software was rejected, in accordance to a ruling on the federal court’s web site.


Djokovic’s legal professionals can have up to two hours to current their case from 10 a.m. (0300 GMT) on Monday, whereas the federal government division will get two hours to current its defence from 3 p.m., the Federal Circuit and Family Court dominated.

A Home Affairs spokesperson was not instantly out there for remark about its authorized defence.


Health Minister Greg Hunt, requested concerning the furore at a media convention on Sunday, declined to remark because it was earlier than the court, however famous that a number of different individuals concerned within the match had their visas revoked.

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham, requested concerning the matter on Channel 9 tv, mentioned with out referring straight to Djokovic that “there is a clear distinction between visas and entry necessities” and “entry necessities … sit over and above the visa situations”.

Czech participant Renata Voracova, who was detained in the identical detention resort as Djokovic and had her visa revoked after points along with her vaccine exemption, left the nation with out difficult her standing, the Czech Foreign Ministry mentioned.

Djokovic’s scenario has drawn an unlikely crowd to the modest Melbourne resort which, till this month, was finest identified for media reviews about asylum seeker occupants claiming they had been served meals containing maggots.

Anti-vaccine protesters, refugee advocates and Djokovic followers have converged exterior the constructing, which is below police guard.

“We are sorry that he has been detained, however we ask you: why does it take the presence of a star to carry consideration to our plight?” mentioned Bangladeshi refugee Mohammad Joy Miah, who has been on the facility since 2020.

Since the resort’s home windows do not open, Miah gave his speech over the cellphone, which a supporter projected via a megaphone at a protest exterior the power on Sunday.

Home Affairs was not instantly out there to reply to Miah’s feedback.

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic mentioned Djokovic had been given gluten-free meals, instruments to train and a SIM card to keep in touch with the skin world.

“It’s a optimistic tone from the Australian aspect. The Serbian authorities is prepared to present all of the ensures needed for Novak to be allowed to enter Australia, the Serbian president can also be concerned,” Brnabic mentioned.

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