Novak Djokovic is back in detention following the second cancelation of his visa, detained on the basis that as an unvaccinated individual he is a threat to the public with the Immigration Minister Alex Hawke claiming the Serbian’s continued presence in the country could “foster anti-vaccination sentiment” and even spark an “increase in civil unrest”.
From my point of view there are a lot of questions that need to be answered (and) I think it will be good if everything clarifies soon. Everyone chooses his road. Rafa Nadal
Documents lodged with the Federal Court show that Djokovic is being detained at an address in Melbourne believed to be his lawyers’ office under guard of two Australian Border Force officers ahead of the emergency hearings on Saturday and Sunday.
This is the second time the Government has tried to deport Djokovic who successfully appealed against the order last Monday, when it was upheld on a ‘procedural’ error.
Consequently the Government is making sure their ducks are well in order with their second effort following Mr Hawke’s reimposition of the deportation order as he is empowered to do.
The 34-year-old Djokovic is still hoping to play the Australian Open which starts on Monday where he is hoping to win the event for a record 10th time and additionally, establish his 21st at grand slam level win for another record.
He travelled to Australia unvaccinated but brandishing a dubious ‘medical exemption’ but following a public outcry, was denied entry by the Border Force who revoked his visa.
Following a few days in detention, Djokovic’s appeal was heard and reinstated but now the Government is determined to implement it and enforce it.
They argue that his presence is a threat to public health and order, particularly as Australia currently suffers a tidal wave of Omicron infections.
His continued presence in the country “may pose a health risk to the Australian community” by solidifying anti-vaccine sentiment and discouraging people from getting boosters according to the Immigration Minister.
In defence Djokovic’s lawyers argue the government has no evidence to support those claims.
While the minister admitted that Djokovic was a “negligible” risk, he pointed out that his past “disregard” for Covid-19 regulations do pose a risk to public health while encouraging people to ignore pandemic rules.
Prime Minister Morrison Scott Morrison backed the decision, saying: “Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected.”
The visa cancellation effectively means Djokovic would be unable to obtain a new Australian visa for three years, except under exceptional circumstances.
Former world number one Andy Murray, who is contesting the Sydney Classic Final today and is scheduled to play at the AO next week, commented on Friday: “It just seems like it’s dragged on for quite a long time now and (it’s) not great for the tennis, not great for the Australian Open, not great for Novak,”
Other players, including Stefanos Tsitsipas, are starting to show their frustrations at Djokovic’s antics.
The Greek world number four, who is also a vaccine sceptic but to play the AO, was jabbed to meet the immigration rules for entry, told the Indian broadcaster WION on Thursday before Hawke’s decision, the Serb was: “For sure he has been playing by his own rules” and making vaccinated players “look like fools”.
Djokovic’s biggest rival Rafa Nadal showed his own frustration declaring he was ‘tired’ of the deportation saga dominating the build up to the first grand slam of the season.
“There is no player in history who’s more important than an event,” the Spaniard told the BBC.
“From my point of view there are a lot of questions that need to be answered (and) I think it will be good if everything clarifies soon. Everyone chooses his road. I respect Novak as a person, of course, and as an athlete, without a doubt.
“I really respect him, even if I do not agree with a lot of things that he did the last couple of weeks.”
Meanwhile the public reaction to Mr Hawke’s action is strong as an online poll by the News Corp media group discovered with 83% in favour of Djokovic’s deportation.