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Judge Anthony Kelly has ordered the decision of delegate to cancel Djokovic’s be quashed, saying the cancellation “was unreasonable”.

The Australian government has been ordered to pay all of Djokovic’s costs.

Judge Kelly ordered Djokovic be released from immigration detention within 30 minutes of the order, which was read in open court about 5.15pm.

However, Commonwealth government barrister Christopher Tran followed the order being read by telling the court he had been instructed that the Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews could now use discretionary powers to cancel Djokovic’s visa.

Judge Kelly confirmed that if Djokovic was summarily removed in that way he would not be able to return to Australia for three years.

More to come …

Novak Djokovic has been confined to an immigration detention hotel as the No. 1 men's tennis player in the world awaited a court ruling on whether he can compete in the Australian Open later this month.
Djokovic faces visa court battle to stay in Australia today. (AP)


The much-anticipated hearing has encountered several technical issues throughout the day, with media around the world initially locked out after a glitch knocked out the live stream.

The live stream was restored after the hearing began, but crashed again.

In early remarks, Djokovic’s lawyer Nick Wood, SC, told the court the Biosecurity Act requires overseas travellers to declare whether they are vaccinated, unvaccinated or medically contraindicated upon arrival into Australia.

“Mr Djokovic made a declaration that he had a medical contraindication,” Mr Wood said.

He said Djokovic did his “level best” to provide authorities with the evidence and documentation necessary to lawfully enter the country on his visa.

Upon arrival into Australia, the tennis star’s phone was confiscated at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport, Judge Kelly said.

“If you will let me talk to people – although you’ve taken my phone from me – I will try and get you what you want,” he said, according to Judge Kelly.

Police surround refugee advocates at the Park Hotel, used as an immigration detention hotel where Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic is confined in Melbourne, Australia.
Refugee advocates have gathered at the hotel where Djokovic is detained alongside refugees and asylum seekers who have been there for years. (AP)

Mr Wood said Djokovic provided the evidence required for vaccination exemption in Dubai before he boarded the plane and when he landed in Australia.

Judge Kelly further addressed the medical exemption Djokovic received, which was was separately further reviewed by an independent specialist panel established by the Victorian Government.

“The point I am somewhat agitated about is what more could this man have done?” he said.

Mr Wood agreed with the judge’s sentiment, saying the tennis star had abided by all the requirements he understood were necessary to enter Australia.

“He had done absolutely everything that he understood, was required to enter Australia,” Mr Wood said.

“He had engaged with Tennis Australia.”

Mr Wood said “any reasonable person” in the star tennis player’s case would have thought they had “ticked every box” regarding visa entry requirements into Australia.

“I am utterly confused, I have done everything that has been asked of me,” Mr Wood said Djokovic had told authorities.

“He was saying, ‘If there has been an error, I don’t understand what it is. I would like some time to speak to lawyers.'”

Mr Wood told the court that “it was abundantly clear throughout the whole process” of Djokovic being interviewed on the morning of January 6 that he wanted more time to speak to his advisors than Australian authorities gave him.

Best photos from the Australian Open

Mr Wood referenced multiple points throughout the transcript of discussions between authorities and Djokovic when the tennis star indicated he wanted more time.

Mr Wood said Djokovic wasn’t able to fully respond when the issues with his visa application arose at Melbourne Airport on January 6.

“He was essentially saying, ‘I have no idea how this could have come to pass,'” given advice he had been given from Tennis Australia and the state government, Mr Wood told the court.

“He needed to speak to people. He wanted to say more and wasn’t given this opportunity.”

Mr Wood has said it was unfair that the delegate and the officers did not give Djokovic more time.

“There was no intelligible reason not to allow him that more time,” he said.

Commonwealth government barrister Christopher Tran was due to begin presenting the government’s case this afternoon, which he previously flagged would show that the delegate’s process in dealing the Djokovic had not been unfair.

However, after Mr Tran requested the hearing be adjourned when his arguments were due to begin, the hearing returned straight to the judge making orders.

It is not known what occurred between the parties when the court was closed.

Djokovic was in the room with his lawyer during the hearing.

The world is watching

Djokovic’s case has attracted attention around the world, particularly in his homeland of Serbia, where the country will be watching for the outcome of the case very closely.

Djokovic, 34, has been detained at a Melbourne immigration hotel since Thursday after the Federal Government cancelled his visa due to the tennis star being unable to provide sufficient evidence to prove he was vaccinated against COVID-19 or qualified for a medical exemption.

His lawyers will today argue the tennis star met Australia’s criteria for temporary vaccine exemption as he had contracted COVID-19 on December 16, which they believe to be a valid excuse under the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) guidelines.

Documents released by the court cite the ATAGI advice to be: “COVID-19 vaccination in people who have had PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection can be deferred for a maximum of six months after the acute illness, as a temporary exemption due to acute major medical illness”.

Djokovic provided evidence of his COVID-19 diagnosis upon arrival into the country.

However, lawyers representing the Federal Government are set to argue today Djokovic was relying on outdated advice from the ATAGI, pointing to this line in the guidance: “Past infection with SARS-CoV-2 is not a contraindication to vaccination”.

Novak Djokovic has been confined to an immigration detention hotel. (AP)

Svjetlana Kovacevic from the Serbian Australian Chamber of Commerce defended Djokovic, telling Today the tennis star thought he had followed all rules and regulations of the Australian Government.

“The fact is he wouldn’t be on that plane at all if he hasn’t got his papers authorised by the Australian Government,” she said.

“All he knows he has done everything according to the rules and he follows the whole process to be able to come and play at the Open.

“Novak acted in good faith and believed that he had all the proper paperwork to compete at the Open.”

Ms Kovacevic described the situation as a “debacle” that was “not easy to comprehend”.

“Giving him the green light it is OK to come and play – as soon as he landed on Australian soil telling him that he needs to go back – I mean, I can’t think of a more embarrassing situation,” she said.

“It’s just hard to believe that something like this would happen to anyone.”

Ms Kovacevic did not confirm reports Djokovic had suffered fleas in his bed or maggots in his food, but said the conditions were “very restrictive” and claimed he needed to make special requests for food, medicine, and “basic necessities”.

“For him to be stuck in a detention centre in a small room by himself on Serbian Orthodox Christmas Day, not allowed to have a priest visit him when he normally goes to church, that’s a bit upsetting for him.”

The suggestion the Serbian tennis star was unfairly treated at Melbourne Airport has been rejected by the Federal Government.

In a 13-page response published late on Sunday to the Serbian’s Federal Circuit Court appeal, the Minister for Home Affairs argued Djokovic’s claims of “procedural unfairness” and “illogicality” were meritless.

His letter from Tennis Australia did not “give any medical reason why the applicant could not be vaccinated”.

The submission urged the court to avoid ordering the “immediate release” of the 34-year-old and argued even if such an order was made, it would not prevent Djokovic’s “re-detention”.

Nor would the quashing of the cancellation guarantee the nine-time Australian Open the chance to defend his 2021 title, the government argued, saying the Minister could then decide whether to make “another cancellation decision”.

Source: 9News

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