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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 announced his intention to stay in Australia and play in the 2022 Australian Open following the news.
“I’m pleased and grateful that the judge overturned my visa cancellation,” Djokovic posted to social media. “Despite all that has happened, I want to stay and try to compete at the Australian Open.”
“I remain focused on that. I flew here to play at one of the most important events we have in front of the amazing fans.”
I’m pleased and grateful that the Judge overturned my visa cancellation. Despite all that has happened,I want to stay and try to compete @AustralianOpen
I remain focused on that. I flew here to play at one of the most important events we have in front of the amazing fans. 👇 pic.twitter.com/iJVbMfQ037
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) January 10, 2022
Following the announcement, scores of Djokovic’s fans gathered in the streets of Melbourne. They surrounded a car they believed contained Djokovic and were reportedly pepper-sprayed by Australian police as the authorities attempted to disperse the crowd.
— 9News Melbourne (@9NewsMelb) January 10, 2022
While Monday was a big win for the nine-time Australian Open winner, his participation in the tournament is still in doubt, 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 had been held at a Melbourne hotel used as a detention facility to house asylum seekers and refugees.
Djokovic 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 state 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 Australia’s Federal Circuit Court on Saturday.
The case quickly became worldwide news, with both of Djokovic’s parents commenting 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.”
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 17 and runs through January 30 local time, meaning the first matches will begin on January 16 in the United States since Australia is a day ahead.
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].