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Novak Djokovic Wins Court Appeal To Remain In Australia, Government Threatens To Cancel Visa A Second Time
MADRID, SPAIN - DECEMBER 03: Novak Djokovic of Serbia in action against Marin Cilic (not seen) of Croatia during 2021 Davis Cup Tennis Tournament semi-final match at Madrid Arena on December 03, 2021 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Burak Akbulut/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Burak Akbulut/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Tennis star Novak Djokovic was released from an Australian immigration detention facility on Monday after Australian Judge Anthony Kelly reinstated his visa following an appeal by Djokovic’s lawyers. Kelly ruled that the federal government’s decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa following his arrival in Australia was “unreasonable.”

Djokovic’s attempt at a tenth Australian Open title is still in doubt, however, after lawyers for the federal government said they may cancel his visa a second time.

“Lawyers for the federal government, however, indicated the fight may not be over, telling the court that Immigration Minister Alex Hawke was reserving the right to exercise his personal power to again revoke Djokovic’s visa,” according to Reuters.

If his visa is revoked a second time, Djokovic would be barred from entering the country for a period of three years.

For the past several days, Djokovic has been held at a Melbourne, Australia, hotel used as a detention facility to house asylum seekers and refugees. 

The nine-time winner of the Australian Open, had his visa canceled on Thursday by Australian authorities after he “failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia.”

Djokovic arrived in Australia on Wednesday in order to participate in the 2022 Australian Open, and after a lengthy standoff with Australian officials, was told that he would not be allowed into the country. Djokovic’s medical exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine — which was granted by Tennis Australia and the Victorian government on Tuesday — was the reason for the standoff.

The Victorian government is a state-level authority.

“The visa for Novak Djokovic has been cancelled,” Australian Minister for Health Greg Hunt said Wednesday. “Obviously, that follows a review of the exemption which was provided by the Victorian government process. They were looking at the integrity and the evidence behind it.”

“It’s a matter to him whether he wishes to appeal that, but if a visa is canceled, someone will have to leave the country,” Hunt continued.

Djokovic’s lawyers challenged the decision by Australian authorities, and it emerged over the weekend that Djokovic was granted the medical exemption due to recovering from COVID-19 in December 2021. 

“Mr Djokovic had received, on 30 December 2021, a letter from the Chief Medical Officer of Tennis Australia recording that he had been provided with a ‘Medical exemption from COVID vaccination’ on the grounds that he had recently recovered from COVID,” according to documents published by the Australia’s Federal Circuit Court show on Saturday. 

The case quickly became worldwide news, with both of Djokovic’s parents speaking out on the situation after having conversations with their son. The president of Serbia — Djokovic’s home country — also spoke out in support of the tennis star, calling it a “political witch hunt.”

“I feel terrible since yesterday, the last 24 hours that they are keeping him as a prisoner. It’s just not fair. It’s not human,” Djokovic’s mother, Dijana, said during a press conference.

“Terrible accommodation,” she continued. “It’s just some small immigration hotel, if it’s a hotel at all….It’s so dirty and the food is so terrible. They don’t want to give him any chance to move on to some better hotel or a house that he already rented. But we hope he will manage somehow.”

Djokovic’s father — Srdjan Djokovic — said that his son has become the “symbol and the leader of the free world.”

“My son is tonight in Australian captivity, but he has never been more free,” he said per The Age. “From this moment, Novak has become the symbol and the leader of the free world, the world of the poor and disadvantaged nations and peoples.”

“My son Novak Djokovic has shown that a small, but heroic country like Serbia, can have the best tennis player and sportsman of all time and that truth can no longer be hidden,” he continued.

Srdjan went on to rip the “greedy and arrogant members of the world’s oligarchy.”

The news of Djokovic’s medical exemption sparked outrage in Australia, a country that has seen severe COVID-19 lockdowns over the past year.

“While the Victorian government and Tennis Australia may permit a non-vaccinated player to compete in the Australian Open, it is the Commonwealth government that will enforce our requirements at the Australian border,” Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said. “If an arriving individual is not vaccinated, they must provide acceptable proof that they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons to be able to access the same travel arrangement as fully vaccinated travelers.”

The Australian Open begins January 16 and runs through January 31.

Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected].

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