In a story which has dominated sports news for the last week, the men’s world No 1 tennis player was refused an entry visa to Australia. However, in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, Judge Anthony Kelly reversed the decision and sanctioned that Djokovic should be released from detention.
Since Thursday, the Serb had been in detention in Melbourne but thanks to Kelly’s decision he has now been allowed to leave the quarantine hotel he was held in and restart his preparation to retain the men’s singles title.
The key part of the appeal revolved around how Djokovic was handled at the airport when he arrived in Australia and whether border control dealt with the situation in the appropriate manner.
Transcripts which showed the 34-year-old’s experience with border force have been released and show the tennis star being told he only had 20 minutes to attempt to get his visa reinstated.
Djokovic: “So you’re giving me legally 20 minutes to try to provide additional information that I don’t have?
“At 4 o clock in the morning? I mean you kind of put me in a very awkward position where at 4 in the morning I can’t call director of Tennis Australia, I can’t engage with anybody from the Victorian state government through Tennis Australia.”
Judge Kelly came to the decision that by only allowing the Serb 20 minutes to argue why his visa shouldn’t be taken away, border control acted inappropriately.
Judge Kelly said of Djokovic’s unfair treatment: “We all play by the same rules. Stated in other terms: those rules were not observed.”
The government conceded that they couldn’t argue against the decision and agreed Djokovic should have been allowed more time to prepare an argument.
This was the turning point in Djokovic’s appeal, he had broken the Australian government’s serve and was on his way back from two sets down to taking control of the affair.
Djokovic was also helped in his case by having contracted Covid-19 last month. The Serb’s lawyers had argued that he had tested positive for Covid-19 on December 16and a copy of his positive PCR test was submitted to the court.
It was stated that two separate medical boards and Tennis Australia were aware of this and for this reason granted him an exemption to be allowed into the country.
In the end, Judge Kelly summed up the case by asking: “What more could he [Djokovic] have done?” Allowing for the immediate removal of Djokovic from detention.
However, this is far from over. It has been suggested that Alex Hawke, Australia’s Immigration Minister, might still decide to use his powers to, once again, withdraw Novak Djokovic’s visa but it remains unclear whether or not this is simply speculation or a threat to the reigning champion.
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