Novak Djokovic news: All we know so far as Australia visa debate rages on – full timeline
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World Number 1 Novak Djokovic has been the centre of a visa storm after he flew to Australia to play in the first Grand Slam of 2022. His visa was subsequently denied, and a hearing has taken place but the furore is far from over. Here’s all we know so far, and a timeline of the events.
- Djokovic was denied entry to Australia on January 6
- The tennis star tested positive for Covid on December 16 – which was the basis behind his travel exemption
- Court documents confirmed Djokovic is unvaccinated
- Despite the court ruling in Djokovic’s favour on January 10, the immigration minister could cancel his visa once more
Read More: Andy Murray stunned by Djokovic vaccine row – ‘Not good for tennis’
Timeline of events
January 4, 2022
Preparing for the Australian Open, Djokovic said he would be flying to Australia with ‘exemption permission’.
Tweeting a picture with his bags at an airport Djokovic wrote: “Happy New Year! Wishing you all health, love & joy in every moment & may you feel love & respect towards all beings on this wonderful planet.
“I’ve spent fantastic quality time with loved ones over break & today I’m heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let’s go 2022!”
January 5, 2022
As Djokovic flew to the country, Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned he would be on the “next plane home” if his exemption did not have “acceptable proof”.
This was seconded by Victoria’s Acting Sports Minister Jaala Pulford, who’s state is hosting the Australian Open.
She said: “The federal government has asked if we will support Novak Djokovic’s visa application to enter Australia,”
“We will not be providing Novak Djokovic with individual visa application support to participate in the 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam.”
Djokovic arrived at Melbourne Airport at 11.30pm local time, and was held by border officials.
January 6, 2022
In the early hours of January 6, Djokovic’s father Srđan Đoković said his son was being held at the airport, and he was in isolation.
Confirmation of Djokovic being denied entry by the Australian Border force came on January 6 at around 8am local time.
Prime Minister Morrison said: “I want to thank the Border Force officers for doing their job implementing the Government’s policies, they have done their job, entry with a visa requires double vaccination or a medical exemption.
“I am advised that such an exemption was not in place, and as a result, he is subject to the same rule as anyone else.
“People try to run the border all the time. People come with a visa that may not satisfy other requirements for entry – and they are put back on planes and turned back all the time.”
Djokovic was then taken to a quarantine hotel, as his legal team began an appeal against the cancellation.
The appeal was then scheduled for Monday, January 10.
January 7, 2022
While in isolation at the Park Hotel in Carlton, Melbourne, Djokovic took to Instagram to thank his supporters.
Writing on his Instagram story he said: “Thank you to people around the world for your continuous support. I can feel it and it is greatly appreciated.”
In Serbian, he added: “Thank you to my family, Serbia and all good people across the world who are sending me support. Thanks to dear God for health.”
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews issued a statement saying Djokovic was “free to leave any time” and was not being detained.
She told ABC: “Mr Djokovic is not being held captive in Australia.
“He is free to leave at any time that he chooses to do so and Border Force will actually facilitate that.
“We treat all people who are in immigration detention fairly, equitably.”
January 8, 2022
As Djokovic awaited Monday’s trial, court documents showed his lawyers argued the travel exemption was granted after the tennis star had Covid.
The documents from his lawyers argued a temporary visa had been given by Tennis Australia following a recent infection with COVID-19 – confirmed by PCR on December 16.
Djokovic testing positive for Covid had not been public knowledge prior to the court documents.
January 9, 2022
The Home Affairs Minister submitted to delay the hearing until Wednesday, however, this was refused by Judge Anthony Kelly.
January 10, 2022 (TODAY)
At the hearing, Judge Kelly ruled the visa cancellation order be “quashed” – a victory for the World Number 1.
The court ruled Djokovic to be released, meaning his visa was valid and he could indeed enter Australia.
However, Australia’s immigration minister Alex Hawke could cancel Djokovic’s visa once more.
Australian law grants the immigration minister exceptional powers, with discretion to cancel visas.
There have been some reports of an ‘arrest’, however, these are unconfirmed.
Hawke had four hours to decide whether to revoke Djokovic’s visa – and time is nearly up.
At 11am GMT the Djokovic family plan to hold a press conference in Belgrade.
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