MELBOURNE, Australia (Associated Press) – An Australian judge has returned tennis star Novak Djokovic’s visa, which had been revoked after his arrival last week because he had not been vaccinated.
Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly also ordered the government on Monday to release Djokovic from a Melbourne hotel quarantine within 30 minutes of his decision.
Government attorney Christopher Tran told the judge after the ruling that the Secretary of Immigration, Citizenship, Immigrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, Alex Hawke, “would consider exercising personal power to repeal.”
This means that Djokovic could face relocation again and could miss the Australian Open, which begins on January 17.
The Australian government revoked the 34-year-old Djokovic’s visa shortly after he arrived in Melbourne late on Wednesday to play in the Australian Open because officials determined he did not meet the criteria for exemption from the entry requirement that all non-citizens be fully vaccinated. for COVID-19.
Djokovic, who court documents say is not vaccinated, said he did not need proof of vaccination because he had evidence of coronavirus infection last month.
Australian medical authorities have ruled that a temporary exemption from the vaccination rule can be offered to people with COVID-19 within six months.
Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly noted that Djokovic had provided officials at Melbourne Airport with a medical exemption by Tennis Australia, which organizes the tournament starting on January 17, and two medical committees.
“The point that somewhat infuriated me was what more could this guy do?” Kelly asked Djokovic’s lawyer, Nick Wood.
Wood agreed with the judge that Djokovic could not have done more.
Transcripts of Djokovic’s interview with Border Force officials and his affidavit revealed a “repeated plea to the officers he was dealing with, in his understanding, and without contradiction, he did everything he understood was required in order to enter Australia,” Wood said.
Djokovic has been under guard in hotel quarantine in Melbourne since Thursday, when his visa was revoked.
But the judge ordered the release of the world number one tennis player from the hotel quarantine during the court session. It was not clear where Djokovic moved during the hearing. He did not appear on screen in the first hours of the virtual hearing.
Djokovic’s lawyers have presented 11 grounds to appeal against the visa revocation. Lawyers called the cancellation “seriously illogical”, illogical and legally unreasonable.
Lawyers for Home Affairs Minister Karen Andres said in their case that if a judge rules in Djokovic’s favour, officials may revoke his visa.
They said the vaccination requirement can only be deferred for travelers who have contracted COVID-19 if their illness is severe.
“There is no indication that the applicant (Djokovic) was suffering from ‘acute critical medical illness’ in December” when his test result came back positive, the written submission said.
The virtual hearing has been disrupted several times due to the huge number of people from all over the world trying to watch the proceedings.
The New Daily News website reported that at one point, an expired court link was hacked and broadcast pornography.
Djokovic is a nine-time Australian Open champion. He has 20 Grand Slam singles titles, a men’s record that he shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Inform McGurk from Canberra. Associated Press reporters John Bay and Dennis Bassa in Brisbane and Tom Moldovino in Melbourne contributed to this report.
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