Politics

Djokovic to face court day before Aus Open


Novak Djokovic won’t go to bed in immigration detention on Friday night despite the federal government’s cancelling of his visa.

The Serbian tennis star will meet with immigration officials in Melbourne at 8am on Saturday, when he will be detained.

Djokovic, 34, will then face the Federal Court of Australia on Sunday – just one day out from the start of the Australian Open.

His matter was transferred after a late night hearing on Friday before Judge Anthony Kelly of the Federal Circuit Court.

Judge Kelly said there still appeared to be some confusion around the ATAGI advice around medical exemptions to the requirement that travellers to Australia be vaccinated.

He questioned whether that was a matter that would need to be determined.

“This pandemic has had a very significant impact worldwide and in Australia, including in particular on the Australian economy … on its peoples and in particular on their livelihoods and their physical and mental health,” Judge Anthony Kelly said.

“I just wonder whether this is effectively an important foundational aspect of this case.”

But Nick Wood SC, representing Djokovic, said that was no longer a factor.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used his discretionary powers just before 6pm to cancel the world No.1’s visa, having considered evidence from Djokovic’s lawyers, along with advice from federal agencies.

Mr Wood said for the purpose of that decision Mr Hawke had assumed Djokovic ticked all the relevant boxes for legal entry into Australia.

Instead he said the minister’s decision was based on concerns Djokovic would “excite anti-vax sentiments” if he was allowed to remain in Australia and play in the Australian Open.

Djokovic’s team are considering a number of grounds of challenge in a formal application to be filed on Saturday, but Mr Wood said the minister was “patently irrational” in not considering that kicking the tennis star out of the country would also excite the same anti-vaccination sentiments.

Mr Wood said Djokovic was a high profile person with a medical contraindication to vaccination, is a “negligible risk” to the community and is a man of good standing.

The lawyers agreed Djokovic could be handed over to immigration authorities on Saturday at a location to be agreed between them.

Stephen Lloyd SC, for Mr Hawke, had identified a location in the Melbourne CBD, but Mr Wood said he had serious safety concerns about the world knowing that location.

“We have a genuine concern about security and a potential media circus to be frank,” Mr Wood said.

More than 55,000 people tuned into an online stream of Djokovic’s hearing on Friday night.



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