Jan 14, 2022
By Jane Brown
Unvaccinated tennis star Novak Djokovic will be detained in Melbourne Saturday, ahead of a court appeal hearing expected on Sunday, when the final word will be given as to whether the Serbian athlete will be allowed to compete in the Australian Open which begins Monday.
Earlier Friday, Australia’s immigration minister announced he used his ministerial discretion to revoke Djokovic’s visa in the public interest.
The decision on “health and good order” grounds means Djokovic faces deportation and a three-year visa ban.
Djokovic’s visa was first cancelled by border guards upon his arrival in Melbourne last week for declaring a medical exemption that failed to meet the country’s vaccination requirement. His lawyers successfully appealed the first cancellation and call this latest decision “patently irrational” ahead of their Sunday appeal.
At an emergency late-night court hearing shortly after the decision was announced on Friday, Judge Anthony Kelly ruled that Djokovic cannot be deported while the appeal proceedings are happening.
Although Djokovic is not vaccinated against COVID-19, he has not actively promoted anti-vax disinformation. However, Australian anti-vaxxers have been using the hashtag #IStandWithDjokovic on social media.
The nine-time Australian Open winner was hoping to defend his title next week, which if he won, would make him the most successful male tennis player in history with a record 21 Grand Slam titles.
For the moment, Djokovic remains in the Australian Open draw and is due to face fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic on Monday – the first day of the tournament.