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Novak Djokovic deported after legal battle loss; French Open in doubt

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Update (Jan. 17, 2022): Tennis star Novak Djokovic returned to his home country of Serbia Monday after his legal battle to compete in the Australian Open ended in deportation. He had his visa pulled twice while in Australia for being unvaccinated, and an appeal to stay in the country failed over the weekend.

“This cancellation decision was made on health, safety and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement in response to the weekend ruling. “I welcome the decision to keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe.”

Not only is Djokovic not competing at the Australian Open; he may not be able to compete at the French Open either. A new law passed in France that excludes unvaccinated people from sports venues, restaurants and other public places will apply to anyone who wants to play in the French Open. There was originally supposed to be a bubble around the tournament where unvaccinated could compete. The French Open is set to start in late May.

Update (Jan. 14, 2022): Tennis star Novak Djokovic has to fight another legal battle to stay in Australia after officials canceled his visa for the second time in just over a week on Friday. Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said he used his ministerial discretion to cancel the visa on public interest grounds.

“Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement commenting on the decision. “This is what the Minister is doing in taking this action today.”

Djokovic would remain free on Friday night, but would effectively return to immigration detention when he meets with Australian Border Force officials at 8 a.m. Saturday. He doesn’t have much time to get the decision reversed, with the Australian Open set to begin Monday. His lawyer Nick Wood told Judge Anthony Kelly, the same one who ruled in favor of Djokovic earlier this week, that Wood hopes an appeal would be heard Sunday.

Update (Jan. 13, 2022): Three days after tennis star Novak Djokovic won a major legal battle in Australia, he was given the top seed in the upcoming Australian Open on Thursday. The tournament begins Monday.

Thursday’s move comes as it is still unclear whether Djokovic will be allowed to remain in the country for the tournament. Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has been considering whether or not to allow Djokovic to stay since a judge ruled he could on Monday.

Expectations of a pending decision were raised when Prime Minister Scott Morrison called a news conference after a national Cabinet meeting Thursday. That speculation heightened when the tournament draw was postponed by 75 minutes, so it could happen after Morrison’s news conference. However that news conference did not address the Djokovic situation, with Morrison referring questions on Djokovic to Hawke.

“These are personal ministerial powers able to be exercised by Minister Hawke and I don’t propose to make any further comment at this time,” Morrison said.

Original Story (Jan. 10, 2022): After spending four days in an immigration hotel, tennis star Novak Djokovic won a major legal battle Monday. The video above shows Djokovic back on the tennis court, as well as some of the reaction to the decision.

The hearing was over his visa, which the Australian government had pulled after denying Djokovic’s medical exemption to the country’s vaccine mandate. Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly reinstated Djokovic’s visa, saying he had not been given enough time to speak to his lawyers before the decision was made to pull the visa. Djokovic’s lawyers argued since he recently recovered from COVID-19 after testing positive last month, he didn’t need to be vaccinated.

I’m pleased and grateful that the judge overturned my visa cancellation. Despite all that has happened, I want to stay and try to compete @AustralianOpen I remain focused on that,” Djokovic said in a Monday tweet, which showed him already back on the tennis court. “I flew here to play at one of the most important events we have in front of the amazing fans.”

The decision was a cause of celebration for many, with police in Melbourne having to use pepper spray to clear Djokovic fans from the streets. It was also a special moment for Djokovic’s family, who had to watch his isolation from afar in Serbia.

“We’re very far away from him. The best we could do is talk about it, you know, give him the best possible case of, you know, love, support,” Djokovic’s brother Djordje said at a Monday news conference. “I guess we did that. We sent a lot of love, a lot of great messages, a lot of great photos and videos. He’s been as grateful as a person can be, and I know he feels a lot of love for us.”

Despite Djokovic’s freeing from an immigration hotel, his legal battle may not be over. Australian government lawyer Christopher Tran told the judge immigration minister Alex Hawke “will consider whether to exercise a personal power of cancellation.”

“The minister is currently considering the matter and the process remains ongoing,” a spokesman for Hawke said, meaning Djokovic could still face deportation and be barred from Australia for three years.

James Allsop, Australian chief justice: “The orders of the court are; one, the amended application be dismissed with costs, such costs to be agreed or failing agreement, assessed; two, reasons to be published at a later date.”

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Update (Jan. 17, 2022): Tennis star Novak Djokovic returned to his home country of Serbia Monday after his legal battle to compete in the Australian Open ended in deportation. He had his visa pulled twice while in Australia for being unvaccinated, and an appeal to stay in the country failed over the weekend.

“This cancellation decision was made on health, safety and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement in response to the weekend ruling. “I welcome the decision to keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe.”

Not only is Djokovic not competing at the Australian Open; he may not be able to compete at the French Open either. A new law passed in France that excludes unvaccinated people from sports venues, restaurants and other public places will apply to anyone who wants to play in the French Open. There was originally supposed to be a bubble around the tournament where unvaccinated could compete. The French Open is set to start in late May.

Update (Jan. 14, 2022): Tennis star Novak Djokovic has to fight another legal battle to stay in Australia after officials canceled his visa for the second time in just over a week on Friday. Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said he used his ministerial discretion to cancel the visa on public interest grounds.

“Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement commenting on the decision. “This is what the Minister is doing in taking this action today.”

Djokovic would remain free on Friday night, but would effectively return to immigration detention when he meets with Australian Border Force officials at 8 a.m. Saturday. He doesn’t have much time to get the decision reversed, with the Australian Open set to begin Monday. His lawyer Nick Wood told Judge Anthony Kelly, the same one who ruled in favor of Djokovic earlier this week, that Wood hopes an appeal would be heard Sunday.

Update (Jan. 13, 2022): Three days after tennis star Novak Djokovic won a major legal battle in Australia, he was given the top seed in the upcoming Australian Open on Thursday. The tournament begins Monday.

Thursday’s move comes as it is still unclear whether Djokovic will be allowed to remain in the country for the tournament. Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has been considering whether or not to allow Djokovic to stay since a judge ruled he could on Monday.

Expectations of a pending decision were raised when Prime Minister Scott Morrison called a news conference after a national Cabinet meeting Thursday. That speculation heightened when the tournament draw was postponed by 75 minutes, so it could happen after Morrison’s news conference. However that news conference did not address the Djokovic situation, with Morrison referring questions on Djokovic to Hawke.

“These are personal ministerial powers able to be exercised by Minister Hawke and I don’t propose to make any further comment at this time,” Morrison said.

Original Story (Jan. 10, 2022): After spending four days in an immigration hotel, tennis star Novak Djokovic won a major legal battle Monday. The video above shows Djokovic back on the tennis court, as well as some of the reaction to the decision.

The hearing was over his visa, which the Australian government had pulled after denying Djokovic’s medical exemption to the country’s vaccine mandate. Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly reinstated Djokovic’s visa, saying he had not been given enough time to speak to his lawyers before the decision was made to pull the visa. Djokovic’s lawyers argued since he recently recovered from COVID-19 after testing positive last month, he didn’t need to be vaccinated.

I’m pleased and grateful that the judge overturned my visa cancellation. Despite all that has happened, I want to stay and try to compete @AustralianOpen I remain focused on that,” Djokovic said in a Monday tweet, which showed him already back on the tennis court. “I flew here to play at one of the most important events we have in front of the amazing fans.”

The decision was a cause of celebration for many, with police in Melbourne having to use pepper spray to clear Djokovic fans from the streets. It was also a special moment for Djokovic’s family, who had to watch his isolation from afar in Serbia.

“We’re very far away from him. The best we could do is talk about it, you know, give him the best possible case of, you know, love, support,” Djokovic’s brother Djordje said at a Monday news conference. “I guess we did that. We sent a lot of love, a lot of great messages, a lot of great photos and videos. He’s been as grateful as a person can be, and I know he feels a lot of love for us.”

Despite Djokovic’s freeing from an immigration hotel, his legal battle may not be over. Australian government lawyer Christopher Tran told the judge immigration minister Alex Hawke “will consider whether to exercise a personal power of cancellation.”

“The minister is currently considering the matter and the process remains ongoing,” a spokesman for Hawke said, meaning Djokovic could still face deportation and be barred from Australia for three years.

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