No 1. male tennis player, Novak Djokovic, was detained upon entry to Australia and his visa cancelled, as he remains unvaccinated from COVID-19. Australia has strict vaccination policies in place, requiring workers and travellers to be double vaccinated or have a medical exemption to enter the country.
Djokovic claimed that he had been given a medical exemption to enter Australia, on the basis that he had already contracted and recovered from COVID-19 in mid-December. As a result, Djokovic went to the Federal Circuit Court to restore the visa, upon which Judge Anthony Kelly quashed the cancellation of his visa and ordered he be released from Immigration detention. Shortly after, Australian immigration minister Alex Hawke, announced his plans to review the decision.
It later came about that Djokovic’s agent made an error declaring that Djokovic had not travelled before his flight to Australia when recent reports suggest that he was in both Serbia and Spain prior to the trip. Djokovic has also admitted to breaching COVID-19 health rules in Serbia after testing positive for COVID-19 on 16 December 2021 and not isolating.
Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, stated that that he expected authorities “to implement the policy of the government.” Suggesting that Djokovic would not be allowed to stay in Australia and compete in the Australian Open unless he can provide a medical exemption to being unvaccinated against COVID-19.
This was upheld when immigration minister Alex Hawke, utilised his ministerial powers to override the decision of the Federal Circuit Court and cancel Djokovic’s visa. Mr Hawke stated that he cancelled the visa on “health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so.”
This decision is a clear illustration of the Australian Government’s commitment to protecting Australian borders amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Scott Morrison stated, “Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected.”
Djokovic and his legal representatives have announced an appeal to this decision, in hope to still compete in the Australian Open this coming week. An appeal hearing is expected to occur on Sunday 16 January 2022. Djokovic will not be deported while these appeal proceedings occur.
Image: BBC News.