Court Orders Djokovic to Be Detained on Saturday as Australia Revokes His Visa Twice

© AFP 2023 / BRANDON MALONE(FILES) This file photo taken on February 16, 2021 shows Serbia's Novak Djokovic reacting after losing a point against Germany's Alexander Zverev during their men's singles quarter-final match on day nine of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne
(FILES) This file photo taken on February 16, 2021 shows Serbia's Novak Djokovic reacting after losing a point against Germany's Alexander Zverev during their men's singles quarter-final match on day nine of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.01.2022
The Serbian athlete, considered one of the best tennis players in the sport's history, has been engaged in a feud with Australian authorities over the coronavirus-related medical exemption he received.
An Australian court has ordered the detention of tennis star Novak Djokovic after authorities revoked his tourist visa for a second time in a row over his vaccination status. Media reports say the athlete will attend an interview with Australian immigration officials on Saturday morning after which he will be arrested and sent to an immigration detention facility used for refugees.
The Serbian athlete initially faced deportation, but local authorities agreed to postpone it. The 34-year-old also faces a three-year ban on obtaining a new visa.
His lawyers said they would lodge an appeal at a late-night court hearing and described the decision to revoke the athlete's visa as "patently irrational". They also voiced concerns about Djokovic's safety if the location of his detention facility becomes known to the public.

What Happened?

The ongoing scandal is over the coronavirus-related medical exemption the acclaimed athlete received in Australia. The exemption allowed him to participate in the Australian Open, one of the four prestigious Grand Slam tennis tournaments. Djokovic may become the most acclaimed male tennis athlete if he participates and wins the tournament.

According to the current rules in Australia, an unvaccinated person can only enter the country if they have a medical excuse for not getting a jab. The conditions include:
inflammatory cardiac illness;
undergoing surgery or hospital admission for a serious illness;
underlying mental disorders;
any serious effect to vaccines.
The 20-time Grand Slam winner and the longest-running number one in men's tennis, received a medical exemption from two independent medical panels organised by Tennis Australia, which is hosting the Australian Open, and Victoria state, where the event is held.
According to the Australian Border Force, the country's immigration agency, the tennis star failed to provide "appropriate evidence" for the medical exemption when he arrived. After he spent hours at the immigration control point in Melbourne his visa was cancelled.
The move prompted a diplomatic row between Canberra and Belgrade, with Serbian officials accusing Australian authorities of harassment and attempts to humiliate the tennis star.
The athlete's lawyers said a recent coronavirus infection was the reason Djokovic was granted the medical exemption. However, Australian authorities have said that this is not a valid reason to enter the country. Only individuals who've caught COVID-19 and are fully vaccinated are allowed to enter Australia.
Reports say Tennis Australia misled athletes as it previously held negotiations with local advisory groups on immunisation, asking whether players who had recently been infected with COVID-19 or had received the first dose of a jab could enter Australia. According to local media, Health Minister Greg Hunt told chief of Tennis Australia that no medical exemptions would be given to such individuals, but the organisation did not pass this information on.

Did Djokovic Lie About his COVID-19 Status?

On 10 January, an Australian judge reinstated his visa, ruling that the medical exemption had been provided from qualified physicians and that border officials ignored correct procedure when he arrived. However, the row became complicated after details emerged of Djokovic's COVID-19 infection.
Initially, his lawyers said that he received a positive PCR test on 16 December. However, in the days after he attended several public events, including the unveiling of a stamp named after him, a children's award ceremony, and an interview with French magazine L'Equipe. Djokovic posted a statement, saying he took a PCR test on 16 December and learned of the result a day after.
The tennis star also admitted making a false declaration on his travel form prior to entering Australia – it stated that he had not travelled in the 14 days before his arrival, when in reality he travelled across Serbia and went to Spain. The athlete said his manager filled the form and called the incident "a human error and certainly not deliberate".
It seems that the situation would have been dealt with more quietly if it were not for the statement Djokovic made about the coronavirus pandemic. He voiced opposition against COVID-19 vaccines, saying he wanted to have the option "to choose what's best" for his body. His wife shared a video that blamed the disease on 5G networks, a popular conspiracy theory. The couple said that they are not anti-vaxxers.
After Australian authorities revoked his visa for a second time, citing "health and good order grounds", his lawyers said the decision was made not because Djokovic posed a danger to the public, but because "he will excite anti-vax sentiment" in Australia.
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