Novak Djokovic’s visa hearing looms as Australian government request for delay is rejected

Karen Andrews, Australia’s Minister of Home Affairs, filed a request on Saturday asking “that the final hearing be postponed until Wednesday 12 January 2022”, five days before the start of the tournament.

The reasons for the postponement request were not stated, but it came just hours after Djokovic’s legal team submitted a 35-page document outlining the player’s defense against the decision to cancel his temporary visa.

As part of that defense, it emerged that Djokovic was granted a medical exemption prior to the Australian Open, as he had recently recovered from Covid-19.

In a letter dated December 7, which was leaked to journalists this week and which CNN cannot independently verify, it appears that the Australian Open organizers wrongly informed unvaccinated players that they could enter Australia to participate in the tournament.

Court documents released Saturday confirmed that Djokovic, who previously voiced opposition to Covid-19 vaccines and vaccine mandates, was not vaccinated when he arrived in Australia on January 5.

Your visa hearing is now scheduled for 10 a.m. local time on Monday (6 p.m. ET Sunday), with a decision on whether you can stay in Australia and compete in the tournament at 4 p.m. (12 a.m. ET).

If the court confirms the cancellation of his visa, Djokovic will be deported as soon as the appropriate travel arrangements can be made.

According to Craig Tiley, CEO of Tennis Australia, it was “conflicting information” that led to exemptions being granted to players not vaccinated ahead of the Australian Open.

In an interview with CNN affiliate 9 News on Sunday, Tiley declined to blame either party. He said Tennis Australia had been in communication with the Australian Home Office “every week” and that all stakeholders were operating in a “very challenging environment”.

Tiley added that he would like to see Djokovic play at the Australian Open. The world No. 1 hopes to win his 10th Australian Open title and 21st Grand Slam title in Melbourne this month.

Djokovic’s detention at the Park Hotel, an alternative place of detention for refugees and asylum seekers, since Thursday has attracted widespread attention; Supporters have gathered outside calling for his release, while others have highlighted the plight of the roughly 30 refugees who are also at the hotel.

Novak Djokovic fans struggle to get him out of his hotel.  Inside, the refugees wonder if they'll ever leave
Back in Djokovic’s native Serbia, his parents have organized protests over the conditions to which they say their son is being held as a “captive” at the hotel, a claim Andrews denied earlier this week.

“He’s free to go anytime he wants, and the Border Force will really facilitate that,” Andrews told ABC on Friday.

In an interview with the Serbian national television station RTV Pink on Saturday, the country’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said that Djokovic will receive “gluten-free meals, exercise equipment and a laptop” while he remains in detention.

According to court documents released on Saturday, Djokovic has repeatedly requested to be transferred to “a more suitable place of detention allowing him to train” ahead of the Australian Open.

Brnabic said she had spoken with Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, but had not been able to reverse the decision to keep Djokovic at the Park Hotel while she awaits the outcome of her legal case.

“He’s still at the Park Hotel, but I hope we’ve made his stay a little more bearable with the concessions we got for him,” he said.

Josh Pennington contributed reporting.


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