Novak Djokovic situation is a 'complete mess' says Dr Hilary
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Judge Anthony Kelly ordered the immediate release of the tennis star from detention after hearing Djokovic’s appeal against a government decision to reject his visa over vaccination controversy. But Immigration Minister Alex Hawke can still cancel his visa on new grounds, and will announce a final decision in the coming days. Djokovic’s is hoping to be free to compete at the Australian Open, which commences on January 17. (Djokovic may not play on Jan 17 as his first match may be Jan 18).
Novak Djokovic will give a press conference at 13.00 GMT today, his father has told the BBC. The director of the Australian Open, Craig Tiley, announced in November 2021 that unvaccinated players would not be able to take part in the 2022 tournament.
At the tournament’s official launch, he said: “Everyone on site – the fans, the staff and the players – will need to be vaccinated in order to participate in this year’s Australian Open.
“There has been a lot of speculation around Novak’s position. He has noted and said publicly that it is a private matter. We would love to see Novak here [but] he knows he has to be vaccinated in order to play.”
However, lawyers for Djokovic argued that the 20-time Grand Slam winner entered the country on the understanding that his exemption from restrictions requiring travellers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 was valid.
Nick Wood told the court that the exemption had been granted to the player by two separate medical boards following a recent coronavirus infection and that he had presented all the necessary medical evidence to officials.
“He had done absolutely everything. He had engaged with everything that was required of him by Tennis Australia,” Mr Wood said.
Judge Kelly appeared to agree with Mr Wood’s argument and told government lawyers that he felt “agitated” by what he had heard so far.
He asked: “What more could this man have done?”
The judge added that Djokovic should have been given more time by the Government to make a submission about why his visa should not be withdrawn.
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Immigration Minister Alex can still cancel Djokovic’s visa at any time, so long as he reaches the requisite satisfaction that there is a ground to do so and it is in the public interest.
A spokesman for Hawke said: “Following today’s Federal Circuit … determination on a procedural ground, it remains within immigration minister Hawke’s discretion to consider cancelling Mr Djokovic’s visa under his personal power of cancellation within section 133C(3) of the Migration Act.
“The minister is currently considering the matter and the process remains ongoing.”
Djokovic has openly said that he is “opposed to vaccination” and “wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine” if it was necessary to travel or compete in tournaments.
Do you think he should still be allowed to play? Have your say in the comments section below.
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