Tennis star Djokovic returns to detention hotel in Australia for another night before court hearing

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Novak Djokovic will spend Saturday night in an immigration detention center before the world number one tennis player seeks a court ruling to stop his deportation and preserve his bid for his 21st Australian Open title.

Djokovic arrived at Melbourne’s Park Hotel, the same immigration detention hotel where he was held last week, before 3:30 pm (0430 GMT), according to a Reuters witness.

About a dozen refugee activists chanted “Stop torture…let them out” as Djokovic and border guards stormed the hotel’s underground garage, which is also used to hold 33 asylum seekers and quarantined COVID-19 travelers.

A man riding a bicycle next to the hotel shouted: “Go home, Novak!”

It will be the second time in detention for Djokovic, who spent four nights in Australia in a hotel reservation before a judge released him on Monday after it was found that the decision to cancel his visa on arrival was unreasonable.

Court documents released after a preliminary hearing in federal court on Saturday showed Immigration Minister Alex Hawke decided to revoke the Serbian star’s visa because his presence could bolster opposition to coronavirus vaccination in Australia.

“Although I … accept that Mr Djokovic poses a negligible individual risk of transmitting COVID-19 to other people, I consider his presence to be a risk to the health of the Australian community,” Hook said in a letter to Djokovic. and his legal team.

That interpretation in Djokovic’s affidavit is more detailed than Hook’s summary statement on Friday, which said his decision was based on “reasons of health and good order”.

Judge David Ocalagan set a hearing on Djokovic’s appeal at 9:30 am on Sunday (2230 GMT on Saturday), while the question of whether it will be held before a single judge or a full court has not yet been decided.

Djokovic’s lawyers said on Friday they would say the deportation would only increase anti-vaccine sentiment, and would be as much a threat to disruption and public health as being allowed to stay and being exempted from Australia’s requirement to vaccinate all visitors.

A court order issued on Friday evening had asked the 34-year-old to surrender to immigration officials for an interview on Saturday morning, before he was taken to his lawyers’ offices for a pre-trial hearing. After leaving his lawyer, he was scheduled to be transferred to an immigration detention center.

Neither Force Force nor the immigration minister’s office immediately responded to requests for comment on whether Djokovic attended the interview.

The government said it would not deport Djokovic until his appeal was considered. Djokovic wants to defend his title at the Australian Open, which begins on Monday.

Players are tired of the saga

Controversy overshadowed the traditional Grand Slam event crowd, and players were tired of the epic.

“Honestly, I’m a little tired of the situation because I think it’s important to talk about our sport and tennis,” Spaniard Rafa Nadal, who has tied for 20 major titles with Djokovic, told reporters at Melbourne Park. The event will be played.

German world number three Alexander Zverev said Djokovic was treated unfairly and that Australian authorities may have used the Serb as a political pawn, which Canberra denied.

“It’s clearly not a nice thing for everyone, for him in particular. But don’t question his legacy because of this,” Zverev said.

Djokovic’s medical exemption from vaccine requirements to play the Open Championship has sparked outrage in Australia, which has undergone some of the world’s toughest COVID-19 lockdowns and where more than 90% of adults are vaccinated, but hospitalization rates are still at record levels.

With global scientists and policymakers focused on vaccinating as many people as possible to end the pandemic, Djokovic’s refusal to receive the vaccination fueled the anti-vaccination movement, especially in his native Serbia and neighboring countries.

The tennis player controversy has become a political touchstone for Prime Minister Scott Morrison as he prepares for elections scheduled for May.

His government has won support at home for its tough stance on border security during the pandemic, but has faced criticism for its handling of Djokovic’s visa application.

Djokovic, who is set to play fellow Serbian Miomir Kekmanovi in ​​the first round of the World Open, is seeking a record 21 Grand Slam title. But instead of hitting Rod Laver Arena on Monday, he could be carried on a flight from Melbourne.

He has the option to withdraw and leave Australia on his own.

“The Australian Open is more important than any player,” said Nadal, whom Djokovic considers his biggest rival on the tennis court.

“If he plays last, well. If he doesn’t, the Australian Open is going to be great…with or without it.”

(Reuters)

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