Djokovic, arrested again, fights against deportation
MELBOURNE (AP) — Novak Djokovic He was detained again on Saturday by immigration authorities, after his case to prevent Australia from deporting him for not being vaccinated against COVID-19 reached three high court judges.
A hearing before the Federal Court was scheduled for Sunday., one day before the date on which the number one tennis player in the world must play his first match of the year at the Australian Open, where he is the defending champion and has been crowned nine times.
Police closed a lane behind the building where Djokovic’s lawyers work and two vehicles left the building in mid-afternoon local time.
In the television pictures it was possible to see Djokovic, wearing a mask, in the back seat of a vehicle and near a detention hotel used by immigration authorities.
The Australian Associated Press informó que Djokovic, the best placed tennis player in the world rankingI was arrested again. The Serb has already spent four nights confined to a hotel near central Melbourne before being released on Monday, when he won an appeal against the cancellation of his visa due to procedural formalities.
The Immigration Minister, Alex Hawke invalidated the 34-year-old tennis player’s visa again on Friday, which had previously been revoked when he landed at a Melbourne airport on January 5.
A deportation from Australia would disqualify Djokovic from returning for three years, although that sanction could be revoked depending on the circumstances.
The tennis player has acknowledged that his travel declaration was incorrect, since he did not report his presence in multiple countries during the two weeks prior to his arrival in Australia.
But that was not why Hawke decided that his expulsion from the country was in the public interest: court documents filed on Saturday by the Serb’s legal team revealed that the minister claimed that “Djokovic is perceived by some as a talisman of the anti-vaccine community.”
Australia has one of the highest coronavirus vaccination rates in the world, with 89% of those over the age of 16 inoculated.
But Hawke claimed that Djokovic’s presence in the country could be a health risk and the “good order” of the Australian population, and “could be counterproductive to the vaccination efforts of others in Australia.”
The Department of Health stated that Djokovic had a “low” risk of transmitting the diseasedy a “very low” risk of making it into the tournament.
The minister cited statements made by Djokovic in April 2020, before there was a vaccine against COVID-19, in which he stated that he was “opposed to vaccination”.
Djokovic had “previously stated that he did not want to be forced by anyone to get vaccinated” in order to compete.
The evidence “makes it clear that has publicly expressed an anti-vaccine sentiment”, wrote the minister in his reasons.
The tennis player’s lawyers allege that the minister did not cite evidence that the Serb’s presence in the country can “foster anti-vaccine sentiment.”
Hundreds of activists held a peaceful rally outside the Melbourne Park complex that hosts the Australian Open, with another planned for Monday.
“We are at Rod Laver Arena to support Novak. He has won nine (Australian Open) titles here. Hopefully this will be the 10th — if he gets out of quarantine and gets his visa back,” said Harrison McLean, one of the organizers. “We are a peaceful movement, (we are) here to raise awareness and support freedom of choice for everyone. “.
Djokovic will be able to leave the hotel where he is being held on Sunday and visit his lawyers’ offices for the hearing by videoconference.
Chief Justice James Allsop announced Saturday that he would try the case with Justices David O’Callaghan and Anthony Besanko.
The decision that three judges study the appeal instead of one it elevates the importance of the process from the perspective of the judiciary and potentially gives Djokovic an advantage.
Djokovic has won the last three editions of the Australian Open. He has won 20 titles in Grand Slam tournaments, so he is tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer as the greatest monarchs in the great events of the men’s circuit in history.
Through his social networks, Djokovic published on Wednesday what has been his most extensive public comment on this entire episode. He blamed his representative for selecting the wrong option on the Australian entry form.
He considered that it was “a human error, certainly not deliberate.”
In that same post, Djokovic said he held up an interview and photo shoot with a French newspaper in Serbia knowing he had tested positive for COVID-19 two days earlier.
Djokovic has tried to use his positive from December 16 as justification to play in Australia without getting vaccinated.
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