Djokovic detained again in Australia, declared public threat

Djokovic 2

Novak Djokovic was
again detained in Australia Saturday, after authorities ripped up his visa for
a second time and declared the unvaccinated tennis superstar a threat to the
public.

Court documents showed the 34-year-old Serbian was currently
being detained at an address in Melbourne, as his appeal against deportation is
heard.

Just two days before the Australian Open begins, the world
number one is again focused on law courts rather than centre court in the
latest twist in a high-profile row over his Covid-19 vaccine status.

Immigration minister Alex Hawke now claims Djokovic’s
continued presence in the country could “foster anti-vaccination
sentiment” and even spark an “increase in civil unrest”.

Djokovic was summoned to appear before immigration officials
in Melbourne ahead of emergency Federal Court hearings on Saturday and Sunday.

He was allowed to follow court proceedings from an address
— believed to be his lawyers’ offices — under guard of two Australian Border
Force officers.

This is the second attempt by Australia’s conservative
government to deport Djokovic, one of the world’s most high-profile Covid-19
vaccine sceptics.

The 34-year-old Serbian used a medical exemption to enter
Australia earlier this month, hoping to challenge for a record 21st Grand Slam
title at the Open.

Amid public outcry, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s
government revoked Djokovic’s visa on arrival.

Many Australians — who have suffered prolonged lockdowns
and border restrictions — believe Djokovic gamed the system to dodge vaccine
entry requirements.

But the government was humiliated when a judge reinstated
Djokovic’s visa and allowed him to remain in the country.

This time, the government has invoked exceptional — and
difficult to challenge — executive powers to declare him a threat to public
health and safety.

The government argues that Djokovic’s presence is a threat
to public health and order, particularly as Australia suffers a tidal wave of
Omicron infections.

His continued presence in the country “may pose a
health risk to the Australian community” by solidifying anti-vaccine
sentiment and discouraging people from getting boosters, immigration minister
Hawke argued, according to a court filing released Saturday.

Djokovic’s lawyers argue the government “cited no
evidence” to support their claims.

The minister admitted that Djokovic is at
“negligible” risk of infecting Australians, but argued his past
“disregard” for Covid-19 regulations may pose a risk to public health
and encourage people to ignore pandemic rules.

‘Health and good
order’

The tennis ace contracted Covid-19 in mid-December and,
according to his own account, failed to isolate despite knowing he was
positive.

Public records show he attended a stamp unveiling, youth
tennis event and granted a media interview around the time he got tested and
his infection was confirmed.

In a statement, Hawke said the government was “firmly
committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the
Covid-19 pandemic”, citing “health and good order grounds” for
the decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa once again.

The minister said “it was in the public interest to do
so”.

The government has agreed not to deport Djokovic until the
hearing is over, barrister Stephen Lloyd told an emergency late-night federal
court session Friday.

Djokovic is the Australian Open’s top seed and a nine-time
winner of the tournament. He had been practising just hours before Hawke’s decision
was announced.

It is unclear if Djokovic will choose to stay and fight the
case if he believes he is unable to compete in the Australian Open.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Friday accused
Australia of “mistreating” the country’s biggest star, and a national
hero.

“If you wanted to ban Novak Djokovic from winning the
10th trophy in Melbourne why didn’t you return him immediately, why didn’t you
tell him ‘it is impossible to obtain a visa’?” Vucic said on Instagram.

“Novak, we stand by you!”

‘In the public
interest’

Prime Minister Morrison backed the decision, saying:
“Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they
rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected.”

The visa cancellation effectively means Djokovic would be
barred from obtaining a new Australian visa for three years, except under
exceptional circumstances, ruling him out of one of the four Grand Slam
tournaments during that time.

He is currently tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal
with 20 Grand Slam titles each.

Former world number one Andy Murray, who will play at the
Open, said Friday he hoped Djokovic’s status would be cleared up.

“It just seems like it’s dragged on for quite a long
time now and (it’s) not great for the tennis, not great for the Australian
Open, not great for Novak,” Murray said.

Other players, including world number four Stefanos
Tsitsipas, have criticised Djokovic.

“For sure he has been playing by his own rules,”
Tsitsipas told Indian broadcaster WION on Thursday.

Author: desi123

Desi123.com is an online news portal that aims to provide the latest trendy news for Asians living in Asia and around the World.

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