MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – Tennis star Novak Djokovic on Monday won a court battle to stay in Australia to fight the Australian Open without vaccination against COVID-19, but the government canceled his visa for the second time. threatened.
Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly reinstated Djokovic’s visa, which was revoked after his arrival last week after officials decided he did not meet the exemption criteria for the entry requirement. All non-citizens should be fully vaccinated.
The judge also ordered the government to release Djokovic within 30 minutes from the Melbourne Quarantine Hotel where he has spent the last four nights.
Public prosecutor Christopher Tran told the judge after the verdict that the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Overseas Services and Multicultural Affairs, Alex Hawke, “would consider whether to exercise personal power of revocation.”
This would mean that Djokovic could face relegation again and miss the Australian Open, which starts on January 17.
Kelly said the threat of another visa cancellation meant that “the stakes have now increased rather than decreased.”
“If this man is to be removed summarily on the personal exercise of the power to revoke, he cannot return to this country for three years, am I right about that?” Kelly asked lawyers for Home Minister Karen Andrews, under whose authority Djokovic’s visa had previously been revoked.
Tran and colleague Naomi Wooten confirmed that Djokovic would be banned from Australia for three years.
The 34-year-old Djokovic’s visa was revoked by the government after he arrived in Melbourne late on Wednesday to play at the Australian Open.
There was a public reaction to the news that Djokovic, who had previously declined to reveal his vaccination status, would compete in Melbourne as Australians who have not been vaccinated, or have been vaccinated by Australian medical authorities. Unrecognized, they face an arduous journey. and quarantine restrictions. Court documents say he is unconvinced.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Conservative government is seeking re-election for a fourth three-year term in elections due in May.
While his government was widely praised as the country’s COVID-19 death toll at the start of the pandemic, Omicron’s cases are rising rapidly. He has been criticized for lacking rapid antigen tests and for refusing to make the test available to all for free.
He has tried to blame the controversy on Tennis Australia, which is organizing the Australian Open.
Djokovic has been in hotel quarantine since Thursday, when his visa was revoked.
He appealed for the cancellation in a virtual court hearing on Monday amid growing public debate over a positive coronavirus test, which his lawyers used as grounds for applying for a medical exemption to Australia’s strict vaccination rules.
Djokovic argued that he does not need proof of vaccination because he has evidence that he was infected with the coronavirus last month.
Australian medical authorities have ruled that a temporary exemption to the vaccination rule may be provided to people who have been infected with COVID-19 within six months.
Judge Kelly said Djokovic had provided officials at Melbourne’s airport a medical exemption granted by Tennis Australia and two medical panels.
“What I’m a little excited about is, what else could this guy do?” Kelly asked Djokovic’s attorney, Nick Wood.
Wood agreed with the judge that Djokovic could not do much more.
Tapes of Djokovic’s interviews with Border Force officers and his own affidavit show that “repeated appeals to the officers with whom he was dealing with his understanding, without protest, he completely He did everything he understood was necessary to enter Australia,” Wood said.
Djokovic’s lawyers presented 11 grounds for appeal against the cancellation of his visa. Lawyers called the cancellations “severely illogical”, irrational and legally unreasonable.
Andrews’ lawyers said in their submission that the vaccination requirement could only be deferred to travelers who have had a COVID-19 infection if their illness was acute.
“There is no suggestion that the applicant (Djokovic) had ‘acute major medical illness’ in December” when he tested positive, the written submission said.
The virtual hearing crashed several times as a large number of people from all over the world were trying to watch the proceedings.
At one point, an expired court link was apparently hacked and pornography was circulated, The New Daily News website reports.
Djokovic is a nine-time Australian Open champion. He is the defending champion and has won the last three titles at Melbourne Park.
Djokovic holds 20 Grand Slam singles titles, a men’s record he shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.