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Djokovic again in detention, continues to battle deportation

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic was again in immigration detention Saturday after his authorized problem to keep away from being deported from Australia for being unvaccinated for COVID-19 was moved to greater court docket.

A Federal Court listening to has been scheduled for Sunday, a day earlier than the boys’s No. 1-ranked tennis participant and nine-time Australian Open champion was resulting from start his title protection on the first Grand Slam tennis event of the 12 months.

Djokovic and his attorneys had a morning assembly with immigration officers and, by mid-afternoon, Australian media reported the tennis star was taken again into detention. Television footage confirmed the 34-year-old Serb sporting a face masks as he sat in a automobile close to an immigration detention lodge.

He spent 4 nights confined to a lodge close to downtown Melbourne earlier than being launched final Monday when he gained a court docket problem on procedural grounds in opposition to his first visa cancellation.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke on Friday blocked the visa, which was initially revoked when he landed at a Melbourne airport on Jan. 5.

Deportation from Australia can result in a three-year ban on returning to the nation, though that could be waived, relying on the circumstances.

Djokovic has acknowledged that his journey declaration was incorrect as a result of it failed to point that he’d been in a number of international locations within the two-week interval earlier than his arrival in Australia.

But that wasn’t why Hawke determined that deporting Djokovic was within the public curiosity.

Lawyers for Djokovic filed paperwork in court docket that exposed Hawke had acknowledged that the tennis star “is perceived by some as a talisman of a community of anti-vaccination sentiment.”

Australia has one of many highest COVID-19 vaccination charges on the planet.

But the minister mentioned Djokovic’s presence in Australia could also be a danger to the well being and “good order” of the Australian public and “may be counterproductive to efforts at vaccination by others in Australia.”

The Health Department suggested that Djokovic was a “low” danger of transmitting COVID-19 and a “very low” danger of transmitting the illness on the Australian Open.”

The minister cited feedback Djokovic made in April 2020 that he was “opposed to vaccination” and had wouldn’t wish to be pressured by somebody to take a vaccine to compete.

Djokovic’s attorneys argued that the minister had cited no proof that Djokovic’s presence in Australia could “foster anti-vaccination sentiment.”

Hundreds of activists held a peaceable rally outdoors the Melbourne Park advanced that hosts the Australian Open, and deliberate one other for Monday.

“We’re at Rod Laver Arena to support Novak. He’s won nine (Australian Open) titles here. Hopefully this will be No. 10 — if he can get out of quarantine and get his visa back,” Harrison McLean, one of many rally organizers, mentioned. “We’re a peaceful movement, here to raise awareness and support everyone’s freedom of choice.”

On Saturday, Federal Chief Justice James Allsop introduced that he would hear the case with Justices David O’Callaghan and Anthony Besanko.

The choice for 3 judges to listen to the enchantment as an alternative of a single decide elevates the significance of the case from the judiciary’s perspective and means any verdict could be much less more likely to be appealed.

Sydney-based immigration lawyer Simon Jeans mentioned he was shocked that Djokovic was now not being deported as a result of his COVID-19 an infection final month didn’t exempt him from Australia’s strict guidelines that international guests are vaccinated until there are sound medical causes that they’ll’t be.

“The unanswered question is if Djokovic was such a threat to good order, why grant him a visa” in November,” Jeans requested. “This is a high-risk strategy. It’s going to be much harder for the minister to convince three judges that what he did was in the public interest.”

Djokovic, who has gained the final three Australian Open titles, can be allowed out of lodge detention on Sunday to go to his attorneys’ workplaces for the video court docket listening to.

He is looking for a document twenty first Grand Slam singles title. He is presently tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer for essentially the most by a person in historical past.

In a put up on social media Wednesday that constituted his most in depth public feedback but on the episode, Djokovic blamed his agent for checking the mistaken field on his journey doc, calling it “a human error and certainly not deliberate.”

In that very same put up, Djokovic mentioned he went forward with an interview and a photograph shoot with a French newspaper in Serbia regardless of realizing he’d examined constructive for COVID-19. Djokovic has been trying to make use of what he says was a constructive take a look at taken on Dec. 16 to justify a medical exemption that might enable him to keep away from the vaccine requirement on the grounds that he already had COVID-19.

In canceling Djokovic’ visa, Hawke mentioned Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s authorities “is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The episode has touched a nerve in Australia, and significantly in Victoria state, the place locals went via greater than 260 days of lockdowns through the worst of the pandemic.

Australia faces a large surge in virus instances pushed by the extremely transmissible omicron variant. On Friday, the nation reported 130,000 new instances, together with almost 35,000 in Victoria state. Although many contaminated folks aren’t getting as sick as they did in earlier outbreaks, the surge continues to be placing extreme pressure on the well being system and disrupting provide chains.

Djokovic’s supporters in Serbia have been dismayed by the visa cancellations. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic accused the Australian authorities of “harassing” and “maltreating” Djokovic and requested whether or not Morrison’s authorities is simply making an attempt to attain political factors forward of upcoming elections.

“Why didn’t you return him back right away, or tell him it was impossible to get a visa?” Vucic requested the Australian authorities in a social media deal with. “Why are you harassing him and why are you maltreating not only him, but his family and an entire nation that is free and proud.”

Everyone on the Australian Open is required to be vaccinated.

According to Grand Slam guidelines, if Djokovic is pressured to tug out of the event earlier than the order of play for Day 1 is introduced, No. 5 seed Andrey Rublev would transfer into Djokovic’s spot within the bracket.

If Djokovic withdraws from the event after Monday’s schedule is launched, he would get replaced within the subject by what’s often known as a “lucky loser” — a participant who loses within the qualifying event however will get into the primary draw due to one other participant’s exit earlier than competitors has began.

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AP Sports Writer John Pye contributed to this report.

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More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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