Calls for Australia to be STRIPPED of the Australian Open for the way it treated Novak Djokovic

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There are growing calls for Australia to be stripped of the Australian Open for the way it treated Novak Djokovic, as the nation’s authorities go on ‘red alert’ over fears of clashes in the stands at the grand slam.   

US star Tennys Sandgren and several tennis fans have called for Australia to be stripped of the tournament – as Djokovic was finally released from immigration detention following a court ruling on Monday. 

Tennis authorities in Melbourne now fear a tinderbox situation at the tournament and are reviewing security arrangements should Djokovic be able to play next week.    

Scuffles broke out between police and Serbian fans yesterday in the city’s business district, with protesters pepper-sprayed, after a suggestion that he was to be put back in detention despite a court freeing him to play.

With Djokovic the focus of rowdy supporters who include anti-vaxxers, the uniformed presence will be beefed up when the event begins on Monday. 

But Djokovic’s chances of playing in the Australian Open still hang in the balance tonight as the country’s immigration minister considers using his personal powers to re-cancel the anti-vaxxer’s visa – despite a judge freeing him from detention this morning. 

Novak Djokovic has appeared on court in Melbourne for a midnight training session ahead of the Australian Open, after being dramatically released from migrant detention when a judge ruled the government had 'unreasonably' torn up his visa

Novak Djokovic has appeared on court in Melbourne for a midnight training session ahead of the Australian Open, after being dramatically released from migrant detention when a judge ruled the government had ‘unreasonably’ torn up his visa 

Police officers pepper spray supporters to clear a road for Serbia's tennis champion Novak Djokovic's car in Melbourne on January 9

Police officers pepper spray supporters to clear a road for Serbia’s tennis champion Novak Djokovic’s car in Melbourne on January 9 

Djokovic thanked fans and vowed to compete at the Australian Open after being freed from migrant detention after he won an appeal over having his visa torn up

Judge Anthony Kelly ruled the government acted ‘unreasonably’ when it tore up Djokovic’s visa at the border last week and then tried to deport him for violating Covid vaccine rules.

The tennis star celebrated his reprieve by posting a picture of himself getting back onto the courts with a midnight training session in Melbourne on Twitter  – alongside a message thanking the judge.

‘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,’ Djokovic wrote alongside an image of himself on court with his team.

‘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. For now I cannot say more but thank you  all for standing with me and encouraging me to stay strong.’

Judge Anthony Kelly ruled border agents had not given Djokovic enough time to put together a defence when at 4am they demanded more documents to support his visa and allowed him just 20 minutes to produce them – as revealed by a transcript of the nearly eight-hour long interview.

Kelly’s ruling freed Djokovic from migrant detention where he has been languishing for the last six days in a ‘torture chamber’ hotel alongside refugees, but does not spell an end to the drama as he still faces being kicked out of the country by immigration minister Alex Hawke who has the power to rip up individual visas.

Mr Hawke declined to use those powers on Monday night but insisted he is still actively considering the move, leaving a Sword of Damocles hanging over Djokovic’s head even as he prepares to compete at the Open in a bid to become the most-decorated men’s singles player of all time.

Djokovic's family - (left to right) mother Djiana, father Srdjan, and brother Djordje - slammed their son's treatment in Australia, likening it to 'torture' while adding that the athlete 'did nothing wrong'

Djokovic’s family – (left to right) mother Djiana, father Srdjan, and brother Djordje – slammed their son’s treatment in Australia, likening it to ‘torture’ while adding that the athlete ‘did nothing wrong’

Novak Djokovic has been freed from immigrant detention in Australia, with a black car thought to be carrying the Serbian tennis ace mobbed by fans as it left his lawyers' offices in Melbourne late Monday

Novak Djokovic has been freed from immigrant detention in Australia, with a black car thought to be carrying the Serbian tennis ace mobbed by fans as it left his lawyers’ offices in Melbourne late Monday

Tennis fans are now calling for Australia to be stripped of its long-standing grand slam status unless Djokovic is allowed to play.

‘Japan is way better at this than Australia. Cancel the Australian Open and give it too Japan. Australia is too backward to hold a global sports event,’ one Canadian tweeted. 

US celebrity trainer Justin Allen added: ‘If the Australian government exercise executive powers and decide to deport Novak Djokovic anyway- despite its own court ruling today- the Australian Open should be stripped of its grand slam status and become a non-ranking event.’ 

Australian Open quarter finalist Tennys Sandgren first sparked the calls when Djokovic’s visa was originall cancelled last Thursday.

‘Just to be crystal clear here 2 separate medical boards approved his exemption And politicians are stopping it, Australia doesn’t deserve to host a grand slam,’ he tweeted.

Mr Hawke’s refusal to rule out using his powers to cancel Djokovic’s visa has sparked controversy among politicians in Australia, with politician and former tennis star John Alexander saying that the Open will be ‘diminished’ if the Serbian is not able to play.      

Mr Alexander leapt to the defence of Djokovic and argued the nine-time Australian Open champion complied with the health entry requirements and didn’t appear to be an unreasonable health risk to Australia.

Fans became increasingly agitated when their hero failed to emerge from his lawyers' office - before it became clear he had somehow snuck out undetected

Fans became increasingly agitated when their hero failed to emerge from his lawyers’ office – before it became clear he had somehow snuck out undetected

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic's (pictured left to right) uncle Goran, mother Dijana, father Srdjan and brother Djordje hold a press conference in Belgrade on Monday night - saying the tennis champion had his 'human rights taken away'

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic’s (pictured left to right) uncle Goran, mother Dijana, father Srdjan and brother Djordje hold a press conference in Belgrade on Monday night – saying the tennis champion had his ‘human rights taken away’

The Liberal MP and former world No. 8 said retaining the Australian Open as a grand slam was in the nation’s interest before taking a swipe at Mr Hawke.   

He said Mr Hawke’s discretionary powers to deport is meant for criminals and contagious people, not ‘political problems’.

‘It would appear Covid-negative Novak has complied with all health entry requirements, the judge asking: “What more could this man have done?,’ Mr Alexander wrote.

‘Based on this, Novak does not seem to present an unreasonable health risk to Australia.

‘So what would be the ‘public interest’ the Minister could potentially use to exercise his personal powers to deport our defending Australian Open tennis champion?

‘Retaining the Australian Open as a grand slam event, I would argue is in our national interest.

‘The minister’s ‘personal powers to cancel visas’ are designed to prevent criminals otherwise walking our streets, or to prevent a contagious person otherwise walking our streets; they’re not designed to assist in dealing with a potential political problem of the day.’

Liberal MP John Alexander (right) has slammed his own government over the Novak Djokovic saga, arguing the tennis superstar should not be deported

Liberal MP John Alexander (right) has slammed his own government over the Novak Djokovic saga, arguing the tennis superstar should not be deported

Mr Alexander doubled down on his comments on Tuesday morning, telling ABC Radio breakfast host Hamish MacDonald it would be a mistake to deport Djokovic.

‘There seems no reason to do so. The judge has been abundantly clear in his finding and his comments around the findings,’ he said.

‘It was a pretty emphatic decision.’ 

While Mr Alexander doesn’t believe Australia will lose its grand slam if Djokovic is deported, he warned the event will be ‘diminished.’

‘If the Australian Open is making conditions that people seem to meet and aren’t allowed to come, that would not help our status,’ Mr Alexander said.

‘We have previously been the poor cousin of the four events but with the establishment of Melbourne Park, it’s significantly the best venue of the grand slams.’

‘We’ve got a lot going for us but we need to tread carefully and we need to be showing that people will be allowed in the country if they meet the criteria.’ 

The controversy began on Wednesday when Djokovic arrived in Australia to compete in the Open holding what he thought was a valid medical exemption to vaccination rules, stating that he had been infected with Covid last month and recovered. 

EXCERPT OF NOVAK DJOKOVIC VISA INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

Interview #1 begun at 12.21am on January 6:

INTERVIEWER: Thank you. So when I ask you what were your reasons for travelling to Australia today?

DJOKOVIC: I’m a professional tennis player and the main reason for me coming to Australia is participating in the Australian Open in Melbourne, Victoria.

INTERVIEWER: Thank you. Now question regarding your vaccination, are you vaccinated for COVID-19? Not vaccinated?

DJOKOVIC: I am not vaccinated.

INTERVIEWER: Thank you. Have you ever had COVID?

DJOKOVIC: Yes. I had COVID twice, I had COVID in June 2020 and I had COVID recently in – I was tested positive – PCR –16th of December 2021.

DJOKOVIC: I have the documents as well to confirm that if you want I can provide

INTERVIEWER: Thank you. I’ll just make a photocopy of those documents.

How Novak Djokovic could still be deported and banned from Australia for three years 

Despite a judge ruling that Novak Djokovic does have a valid medical exemption to enter Australia, the Serb is still facing deportation under the Migration Act.

Under section 133C of the act, the immigration minister has wide-ranging powers to revoke visas if they personally do not believe the holder has a right to remain in the country.

The minister, currently Alex Hawke, can cancel a visa if he believes the person poses a risk to ‘health, safety or good order of the Australian community or a segment of the Australian community’ or the ‘health or safety of an individual or individuals’. 

The same law can also be used to ban the visa-holder from re-entering Australia for three years, though this is at the discretion of the minister and is not automatic.

Because the power is discretionary and far-reaching, there are very few grounds on which the decision can be appealed in court.  

Mr Hawke has said he is still considering whether to use the power on Djokovic, meaning he is not yet free of the threat of deportation. 

But border guards rejected the documents and tore up the visa, with Djokovic thrown into detention while he waited for his appeal to come before the courts.

That hearing took place today, with Judge Kelly quashing the decision to revoke his visa after ruling that the medical exemption was valid and the tennis star had done everything in his power to prove he was not a health risk.  

‘What more could this man have done?’ he asked a virtual hearing.

As part of the hearing, a transcript between Djokovic and border guards was released that laid bare the star’s confusion as he was told that his visa was being cancelled unless he could come up with more documents to support it – in the early hours of the morning and without being allowed to use his phone.

‘I am really failing to understand what else do you want me to provide to you. I have provided all the documents that Tennis Australia and Victorian government has asked me to do in the last three/four weeks, this is what we have been doing,’ Djokovic said.

‘I applied [for a medical exemption], they approved, I just really don’t know what else do you want me to say. I arrived here because of these documents otherwise I wouldn’t have been allowed to come in. I just really don’t understand what is the reason you don’t allow me to enter your country.’

After being told he has 20 minutes to come up with a reason why the visa shouldn’t be cancelled, Djokovic adds: ‘So you’re giving me legally 20 minutes to try to provide additional information that I don’t have? At 4 o clock in the morning? 

‘I mean you kind of put me in a very awkward position where at 4 in the morning I can’t call director of Tennis Australia, I can’t engage with anybody from the Victorian state government through Tennis Australia. I just you put me in a very uncomfortable position. I don’t know what else can I tell you. I mean everything that that they.. that I was asked to do is here.’  

After being told by border guards that having recovered from Covid is not sufficient reason to get a border certificate, Djokovic adds: ‘The federal government said okay, fine, access granted, travel declaration, QR code, you are free to go.

‘Otherwise I wouldn’t be flying here. There’s absolutely no way I would put myself in a position to come and sit here with you… I made it all the way to Australia because you know they all made it very clear and certain to me that I have all the documentation that I possibly can provide to you.’

Djokovic’s lawyer presented the same line of argument in court, saying he had received assurances that a recent positive Covid-19 test qualified him for the medical exception from the country’s requirement for all visitors to be double vaccinated. 

The Australian government, however, had argued that non-citizens had no right of guaranteed entry to Australia and stressed that even if the Serbian won the court action, it reserved the right to detain him again and remove him from the country.  

 

Earlier in the day Djokovic was removed from detention to be with his lawyers during the hearing, and Judge Anthony Kelly expressed agitation over the rejection of Djokovic’s medical exemption.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC VISA SAGA: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW 

What happened when Djokovic arrived in Australia?

Novak Djokovic touched down in Melbourne about 11.30pm on Wednesday night, and was swiftly taken in for questioning by Border Force officials.

He spent about six hours speaking with officials before a decision was made to cancel his visa on the basis that he could not validate his medical exemption to arrive in Australia without a Covid-19 vaccine.

He was swiftly taken to a detention centre in the heart of Melbourne, where he remains. 

Why is Djokovic in court?

Immediately after his visa was cancelled, Djokovic and his team indicated they would fight the decision. 

They appeared before the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia on Thursday afternoon, where the matter was postponed until Monday, 10am.

On Monday, Djokovic’s lawyers will argue to reverse the decision to cancel the visa. The government hope to have the decision supported.

If Djokovic loses his appeal, he could be deported as early as Monday night, but it is likely to be more complex than that.

Who is responsible for the bungle?

Court documents and leaked letters have helped piece together the puzzle of how the messy visa situation occurred.

Since Djokovic was detained, officials have hand balled responsibility between themselves. 

Djokovic was informed by Tennis Australia that he was exempt to travel to Australia and play. It’s understood his application was assessed by two bodies – one assigned by TA and the other by the Victorian state government.

On Saturday night, it was revealed via court documents that Djokovic had also received correspondence from the Department of Home Affairs – a federal body – which indicated he was free to travel to Australia.

But this has been revealed to be an arrivals assessment form, and not official confirmation he was granted quarantine-free travel. 

No single party has accepted responsibility for the debacle, and at least one other tennis player has been sent home after they were initially approved with the same exemption.

Will Djokovic play in the Australian Open?

At a court hearing on Monday, Djokovic was told that border guards had been wrong to tear up his visa and that he would be allowed into the country.

Australia’s immigration minister was then given four hours to decide whether to use his personal powers to override the court’s decision, tear up Djokovic’s visa, and push ahead with deportation.

The time limit lapsed, and so Djokovic was allowed to go.

Australia insists it is still considering whether to deport him, but in the meantime he is free to compete in the Open which begins on January 17.

Djokovic is hoping to claim victory which would see him become the most-decorated athlete ever in the men’s singles tournament. 

Djokovic’s lawyers presented their arguments to the court, but government lawyer Mr Tran only spoke for half an hour before a lengthy adjournment.

It appears the government used the adjournment to withdraw its case, before agreeing with Djokovic’s legal team on the wording of the judge’s subsequent order. 

The minutes note Djokovic was not given adequate time to respond to the notification to cancel his visa.

Earlier, the court published an order made yesterday that Djokovic be taken from the Park Hotel – where he had been held since Thursday – and brought to ‘a premises as specified by the applicant’s solicitors’ during the hearing.

The hearing was delayed by technical issues with the court’s video link, but Djokovic’s lawyers argued their case to Judge Kelly, who asked the court ‘What more could this man have done?’ and said he was ‘agitated’ about the issue of Djokovic’s medical exemption.

‘Here, a professor and an eminently qualified physician have produced and provided to the applicant a medical exemption,’ Judge Kelly said.

‘Further to that, that medical exemption and the basis on which it was given was separately given by a further independent expert specialist panel established by the Victorian state government and that document was in the hands of the delegate.’

Djokovic’s lawyer, Nicholas Wood, has argued the notice of intention to cancel his visa was defective because it was made on ‘a confusing blend of two grounds’.

He also argued that Djokovic was treated at the airport as if access to lawyers ‘couldn’t possibly’ be of assistance in the matter and was not given a reasonable chance to respond to the notice.

At a press conference, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison was asked by a reporter to respond to comments from Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley stating he was given conflicting government advice on medical exemptions.

Mr Morrison said: ‘Well, the matter is before the court so I can’t comment on the matter before the court … but in relation to the government, our government, the federal government’s advice to Tennis Australia, that was set out very clearly in November, as I read the extract from this very podium, it could not be more clear.’

Mr Morrison refused to comment on court documents submitted by the government which indicate Djokovic may remain in detention despite winning his appeal.

The documents urged the court to only ‘quash the decision and costs’ and said ‘it is inappropriate to make any further orders, whether they be for immediate release or even remitter to the delegate for reconsidering according to the law’.

They also noted: ‘An order for immediate release does not prevent re-detention if there is power to detain.’

It was revealed in court documents submitted by Djokovic’s lawyers that the player had been infected with Covid-19 in December 2021. The documents said the infection was the basis of Djokovic’s medical exemption.

The documents also noted that Djokovic expressed ‘shock’, ‘surprise, and ‘confusion’ when he was notified of his visa cancellation ‘given that (as he understood it) he had done everything he was required to enter Australia’.

But Australia’s Home Affairs Department filed court documents in which it stated ‘there is no such thing as an assurance of entry by a non-citizen into Australia’ and noted that the Minister has the power to cancel Djokovic’s visa a second time if the court rules in his favour.

‘As the Court raised with the parties at a previous mention, if this Court were to make orders in the applicant’s favour, it would then be for the respondent to administer the Act in accordance with law. That may involve the delegate deciding whether to make another cancellation decision, but there are also other powers in the Act, as the Court would be aware.

Officers use pepper spray to drive away tennis fans who tried to mob Djokovic's car as it left his lawyers' offices today

Officers use pepper spray to drive away tennis fans who tried to mob Djokovic’s car as it left his lawyers’ offices today

A member of the press lays on the ground after apparently being pepper sprayed as Djokovic's car left his lawyer's office

A member of the press lays on the ground after apparently being pepper sprayed as Djokovic’s car left his lawyer’s office

Nadal brands Djokovic visa battle ‘a circus’

Rafael Nadal called Novak Djokovic’s Covid vaccination controversy in Australia ‘a circus’ and joked that he would prefer that the world number one tennis player didn’t play at the upcoming Australian Open.

Djokovic was released from Australian immigration detention on Monday after winning a court challenge to remain in the country to pursue his bid for a record 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.

The world No 1 arrived in the country to compete in the Australian Open last week holding what he thought was a valid medical exemption to vaccination rules, stating that he had been infected with Covid last month. 

But border guards rejected the documents and tore up the visa, with Djokovic thrown into detention alongside refugees while he waited for his appeal to come before the courts.

That hearing took place today, with Judge Anthony Kelly dramatically quashing the decision to revoke his visa after ruling that border guards had been ‘unreasonable’ and had not given Djokovic, 34, enough time to appeal.  

‘Whether or not I agree with Djokovic on some things, justice has spoken and has said that he has the right to participate in the Australian Open,’ Nadal told Spanish radio Onda Cero on Monday. 

‘I think it is the fairest decision to do so, if it has been resolved that way. I wish him the best of luck.’

The virtual court hearing at the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia had been beset with technical issues, which has stopped Djokovic as well as members of the public from viewing the proceedings online. 

Judge Kelly had ruled that in the face of technical difficulties, Djokovic must be released from the hotel and taken to a different location where he able to watch the hearing, reports News.com.au.        

The judge said he was ‘agitated’ after learning all the steps the World No.1 took to comply with Australia’s Covid rules – only to be detained in an immigration detention facility when he landed at Melbourne airport.

Judge Kelly also raised concerns about how the Serbian was treated by border officials on arrival to the country. 

‘A professor and qualified physician have provided the applicant a medical exemption, the basis of which was given by a further independent expert specialist panel established by the Victorian state government… that document was in the hands of the delegate,’ he said.

‘The point I’m somewhat agitated about is, what more could this man have done?’   

Djokovic’s barrister Nick Wood said he’d been asking himself the same question, and said the Serbian star was adamant he did everything that was asked of him.    

Before the court hearing began, Djokovic’s parents Dijana and Srdjan joined hundreds of supporters in the Serbian capital Belgrade, insisting that the world will ‘hear the truth’.

The defence team’s arguments finally got underway on Monday after the virtual hearing was hijacked by Serbians who displayed porn and played techno music in a protest against the tennis star’s detention. 

Exchanges between Judge Kelly and Mr Wood revealed that officials made Djokovic switch off his phone from midnight to around 7.42am local time, when the decision to cancel his visa was made. 

Officials reneged on an agreement to give him until 8.30 a.m. to speak to tournament organiser Tennis Australia, Wood said, and dissuaded him from waiting to speak to lawyers.

Judge Anthony Kelly quashed the visa cancellation and ordered the Australian Government to pay legal costs and release Djokovic from detention within half an hour

Judge Anthony Kelly quashed the visa cancellation and ordered the Australian Government to pay legal costs and release Djokovic from detention within half an hour

The car park of the Park Hotel, where the star athlete has been held during a legal challenge over his visa, in Melbourne, Australia, January 10

The car park of the Park Hotel, where the star athlete has been held during a legal challenge over his visa, in Melbourne, Australia, January 10

Fans of Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic react to news of his court win outside Federal Circuit Court ahead of the Australian Open

Fans of Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic react to news of his court win outside Federal Circuit Court ahead of the Australian Open

Demonstrators also took to the streets in Melbourne - using Djokovic's incarceration in the deportation hotel to highlight conditions there

Demonstrators also took to the streets in Melbourne – using Djokovic’s incarceration in the deportation hotel to highlight conditions there

Martina Navratilova ‘can’t defend’ Djokovic’s decision not to get Covid vaccine 

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova insists she cannot defend Novak Djokovic’s choice not to get vaccinated amid the ongoing saga surrounding his Australian visa. 

The anti-vaxx world No 1 won an appeal on Monday against the Australian government for tearing up his visa upon his arrival in Melbourne last week. 

Djokovic arrived in the country to compete in the Australian Open holding what he thought was a valid medical exemption to vaccination rules, stating that he had been infected with Covid last month. 

But border guards rejected the documents and tore up the visa, with Djokovic thrown into detention alongside refugees while he waited for his appeal to come before the courts.

That hearing took place today, with Judge Anthony Kelly dramatically quashing the decision to revoke his visa after ruling that border guards had been ‘unreasonable’ and had not given Djokovic, 34, enough time to appeal. 

Yet Navratilova – who won a record total of 59 Grand Slam titles across singles and doubles – told Good Morning Britain that the ‘saga’ was ‘getting crazier by the minute’, adding she couldn’t defend the Serb’s choice not to get the jab.

‘It’s unbelievable, what a saga. It could have been avoided. I just wish Novak had taken that vaccination to begin with,’ the 65-year-old said. 

‘I admire him so much but I can’t defend the choice to not get vaccinated.  

Wood said Djokovic had clearly declared he had a medical contraindication that exempted him from the requirement to be double vaccinated and, even though he was not required to, had provided evidence to support that claim both before boarding his flight to Australia and on arrival.   

The court case got off to a rough start, after an old link to broadcast the hearing over Microsoft Teams was overrun with pornographic pictures and music. 

Meanwhile, an alternative livestream set up by staff at the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia crashed when the world’s media and public tried to log in on Monday morning.  

The court had initially issued a Microsoft Teams link to livestream the hearing, but later updated the advice with a new website to watch proceedings.

Minutes before the case was set to begin, the initial link was overrun by members of the Serbian public and foreign press and at one stage, an unknown person took over control and displayed pornographic pictures for hundreds to see. 

Others were being generally disruptive in the link, making silly noises, shouting and playing techno music as the court official tried to find a way to mute all. 

The new link provided by the federal court staff also crashed due to overwhelming global interest, with the hearing eventually getting underway half-an-hour late at 10.30 am local time (23.30 GMT Sunday). Court officials said they were working to rectify the problem.     

The case has polarised opinion around the world and elicited heartfelt support for the tennis star in his native Serbia.

‘Today is a big day. Today, the whole world will hear the truth,’ Djokovic’s mother Dijana Djokovic told the crowd in Belgrade.

‘We hope that Novak will come out as a free man. We send great love to Novak. We believe in him, but also in the independent judiciary in Melbourne,’ she said.

Djokovic’s father Srdjan Djokovic said ‘this is happening because we are only a small part of the world, but we are proud people’.

The family were joined by hundreds of supporters, including the UK’s former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, in Belgrade, with the ex-politician saying he was waiting for the result of the visa hearing with Djokovic’s relatives.

Video footage shows Farage walking into a trophy room with Djokovic’s brother Djordje.

UK tennis star Andy Murray was quick to comment and wrote to the former right-wing politician: ‘Please record the awkward moment when you tell them you’ve spent most of your career campaigning to have people from Eastern Europe deported.’

He added: ‘They can’t break us. Novak is the personification of freedom, everything human that one man contains in himself. Shame on them!’

Mrs Djokovic said that the conditions in the hotel in Melbourne where Djokovic is staying are ‘not humane’.

‘He doesn’t even have breakfast,’ she said. ‘He has a wall to stare at and he can’t even see a park in front or go out of the room.’

Djokovic’s lawyer, Nick Wood, had argued during the court hearing that the Australian government’s visa cancellation notice was ‘defective’ because it has a typo.  

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic's father Srdjan Djokovic (centre) poses with a fan holding a painting of Novak Djokovic during a rally in front of Serbia's National Assembly, in Belgrade, on Sunday

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic’s father Srdjan Djokovic (centre) poses with a fan holding a painting of Novak Djokovic during a rally in front of Serbia’s National Assembly, in Belgrade, on Sunday

Dijana (centre) and Srdjan (right) were among members of the Djokovic family protesting in Belgrade

Dijana (centre) and Srdjan (right) were among members of the Djokovic family protesting in Belgrade

Andy Murray trolls Nigel Farage as the pair trade blows after GB News host tweeted a video from Belgrade with Novak Djokovic’s family 

Nigel Farage has hit back at Andy Murray in a bizarre Twitter spat over the detention of Novak Djokovic in Australia.  

Djokovic, the world number one men’s tennis player, was freed from immigration detention hours after a judge ruled that border guards were wrong to tear up his visa and try to deport him because he is not vaccinated against Covid. 

A black car carrying the 34-year-old tennis ace drove out of legal offices where a virtual court hearing had taken place earlier in the day, and was immediately mobbed by fans who then got into scuffles with police.    

Former UKIP leader and MEP Nigel Farage has been supporting Djokovic’s cause online, tweeting a video from Belgrade with the tennis star’s family.

Referencing the tennis ace’s detention, Mr Farage also wrote: ‘If they can do this to the world’s No 1 tennis player, just think what they could do to you.’

Two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray replied to Mr Farage, telling him to ‘record the awkward moment when you tell them you’ve spent most of your career campaigning to have people from Eastern Europe deported’.

Mr Farage has now hit back, telling Mr Murray: ‘Dear Andy, you clearly don’t understand politics or the Brexit campaign but are filled with prejudice. Concentrate on the tennis and, a word of advice, crack a smile every now and again.’

He added a smiley face emoji to the tweet.   

Mr Wood argued a typo in the Notice of Intention to Consider Cancellation rendered the entire document ‘defective’. 

Home Affairs said the typo was an unfortunate but immaterial mistake that should not discount the context of the message. 

Mr Wood also argues Djokovic went beyond what was required of him by providing evidence of his medical contraindication. 

He said government entry requirements specify a traveller must declare they can prove their exemption, but does not state they will have to do so. 

‘He was not required to provide evidence, even though as a matter of fact, he did,’ Mr Wood said.   

Djokovic’s lawyers said he also had the necessary permissions to enter Australia, including an assessment from the Department of Home Affairs that responses on his travel declaration form indicated he met the conditions for quarantine-free arrival.

But the government lawyers rejected that argument, saying the department’s email was not an assurance ‘that his so-called ‘medical exemption’ would be accepted’, and his responses could be questioned and verified on his arrival. 

The government also challenged the claim by Djokovic, a vocal sceptic of vaccines, for a medical exemption on the basis he had contracted COVID-19 in mid-December and had recovered two weeks later.

‘There is no suggestion that the applicant had ‘acute major medical illness’ in December 2021. All he has said is that he tested positive for COVID-19. This is not the same,’ court filing said.

The government will seek to have his appeal dismissed with costs, paving the way for his deportation as soon as Monday evening. 

Australian officials initially said Djokovic would be given an exemption to stringent vaccine rules by state authorities and be able to participate in the Australian Open.

But when he landed, his visa was cancelled by federal border officials.

The exemption request said Djokovic’s first positive test was on December 16 and, on the date of issue, it said the tennis player ‘had not had a fever or respiratory symptoms in the past 72 hours’. 

His lawyers submitted a 35-page dossier, arguing that he met the requirements for a vaccine exemption certificate due the fact he had suffered Covid last month. 

But in a 13-page court filing made public today, Australian government lawyers stated that it was ‘common ground’ between both sides of the legal fight that Djokovic is ‘unvaccinated’, Sky News reports.    

Lawyers for Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said the country’s vaccination exemption form makes clear that a previous infection ‘is not a contraindication to immunisation’.  

The government stated: ‘There is no suggestion that the applicant had ‘acute major medical illness’ in December 2021. 

‘All he has said is that he tested positive for Covid… That is not the same. Thus the ATAGI Vaccination Advice uses different terms, such as mere ‘past infection’ and also ‘symptomatic infection.”

The document adds that even if hearing is concluded in Djokovic’s favour, it does not mean he could not be re-detained or have his visa cancelled again.

‘If this Court were to make orders in the applicant’s [Djokovic] favour, it would then be for the respondent [Australian government] to administer the Act in accordance with law,’ federal lawyers stated. 

Novak Djokovic (pictured with Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley in 2021) is set to learn his fate after a whirlwind trip to try and defend his Australian Open title - which would make him the most successful men's player of all time

Novak Djokovic (pictured with Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley in 2021) is set to learn his fate after a whirlwind trip to try and defend his Australian Open title – which would make him the most successful men’s player of all time

Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said in his first media interview since the furore began that his organisation had spoken with federal and state officials for months to ensure the safe passage of players. 

For days, demonstrators and counter-demonstrators have gathered outside the facility. Nobody is allowed in or out except staff.

Hours before the hearing, a pro-refugee banner was unfurled from the roof and police removed a small number of protestors from the scene.

Social media is swamped with questions over Djokovic’s whereabouts after the alleged positive Covid-19 test amid a surge of the pandemic.

Djokovic attended two public events on December 16 in Belgrade, as well as a December 17 event in the Serbian capital honouring young tennis players.

The event was covered by local media, and parents posted photos on social media showing Djokovic and the children not wearing masks. It is not clear if Djokovic knew the results of his test at the time.

Days later he was shown playing tennis in a park in front of his apartment in Belgrade.

‘Legally, Djokovic doesn’t have to explain what happened (after his positive test) but it would be very good for his reputation here and the whole world,’ Sasa Ozmo, a Serbian sports journalist, told the N1 television.



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