Australia

Novak Djokovic to be freed from detention with visa reinstated

Tennis world No.1 Novak Djokovic will be freed from immigration and his visa reinstated after winning his legal challenge.

Federal Court Judge Anthony Kelly said he would order on Monday afternoon that the decision to cancel his visa should be quashed and he be paid costs

“The decision to proceed with the interview and cancel that visa … was unreasonable,” he ordered after an agreement was reached by Djokovic’s lawyers and lawyers for Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews.

He said Djokovic must be released within 30 minutes of the order being made.

Djokovic arrived in Australia late on Wednesday after declaring he had a medical reason not to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

But he was taken to immigration detention after having his visa cancelled early on Thursday morning.

Djokovic challenged that decision in a hearing before Judge Kelly, which was plagued by technical issues, with live-streams collapsing under the pressure of tens of thousands of people trying to watch.

He was present with his lawyers for the hearing.

Christopher Tran said the minister had reserved the personal power to cancel Djokovic’s visa.

Earlier, Judge Kelly had ordered Djokovic be taken from detention to a confidential location specified by his lawyers for the duration of Monday’s hearing and be returned there later.

He last week questioned the possibility of Djokovic being transferred somewhere where he could train for the Australian Open, should the challenge be successful.

Nick Wood, SC, said Djokovic declared before boarding his flight to Australia from Dubai that he had a medical contraindication and was able to provide evidence – a medical exemption by Tennis Australia.

Judge Kelly asked: “What more could this man have done?”

“Here, a professor and an eminently qualified physician have produced and provided to the applicant a medical exemption,” he 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.”

Australian government lawyers had asked the judge to reject Djokovic’s legal challenge and order that he pay costs.

But should he win and the court order his immediate release, they want the judge to make it clear there’s nothing stopping them detaining him again.

-AAP



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