By Sonali Paul and Sudipto Ganguly
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Novak Djokovic will spend Saturday evening in immigration detention earlier than the world’s tennis primary seeks a courtroom ruling to cease his deportation and preserve alive his bid for a report twenty first main title on the Australian Open.
Djokovic arrived at Melbourne’s Park Lodge, the identical immigration detention lodge the place he was held final week, simply earlier than 3:30 pm (0430 GMT), based on a Reuters witness.
A few dozen refugee activists chanted “cease the torture… allow them to out” as Djokovic and Border Power guards drove into the underground storage of the lodge, which can also be getting used to carry 33 asylum seekers and travellers in COVID-19 quarantine.
A person biking previous the lodge shouted: “Go house, Novak!”
It is going to be a second stint in detention for Djokovic, who spent his first 4 nights in Australia in lodge detention earlier than a decide freed him on Monday after discovering a call to cancel his visa on arrival had been unreasonable.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke determined to cancel the Serbian famous person’s visa as a result of his presence might foster opposition to COVID-19 vaccination in Australia, courtroom paperwork launched after an preliminary listening to within the Federal Courtroom on Saturday confirmed.
“Though I … settle for that Mr Djokovic poses a negligible particular person threat of transmitting COVID-19 to different individuals, I nonetheless think about that his presence could also be a threat to the well being of the Australian neighborhood,” Hawke stated in a letter to Djokovic and his authorized workforce.
This rationalization in Djokovic’s affidavit is extra detailed than the temporary assertion Hawke launched on Friday, which stated his choice was based mostly on “well being and good order grounds”.
Justice David O’Callaghan set a listening to on Djokovic’s enchantment for 9:30 a.m. on Sunday (2230 GMT on Saturday), with the query of whether or not it will be held earlier than a single decide or a full courtroom nonetheless to be decided.
Djokovic’s legal professionals stated on Friday they’d argue deportation would solely additional fan anti-vaccine sentiment and could be as a lot a menace to dysfunction and public well being as letting him keep and exempting him from Australia’s requirement that each one guests be vaccinated.
A courtroom order on Friday evening had required the 34-year-old to give up to immigration officers for an interview on Saturday morning, earlier than he could be taken to his legal professionals’ officers for the preliminary listening to. After leaving his legal professionals, he was to be taken into immigration detention.
Border Power and the immigration minister’s workplace didn’t instantly reply to requests for touch upon whether or not Djokovic had attended the interview.
The federal government has stated it will not deport Djokovic till his enchantment has been heard. Djokovic needs to have the opportunity defend his title on the Australian Open, which begins on Monday.
PLAYERS TIRE OF SAGA
The controversy has overshadowed the standard build-up to the Grand Slam occasion, and gamers had been tiring of the saga.
“Actually I am little bit bored with the scenario as a result of I simply imagine that it is necessary to speak about our sport, about tennis,” Spaniard Rafa Nadal, who’s tied on 20 main titles with Djokovic, instructed reporters at Melbourne Park, the place the occasion will likely be performed.
German Alexander Zverev, the world quantity three, stated Djokovic had been handled unfairly and that the Serb may need been used as a political pawn by Australian authorities, one thing Canberra has denied.
“That is clearly not a pleasant factor for everybody, for him particularly. However do not query his legacy due to this,” Zverev stated.
Djokovic’s medical exemption from vaccine necessities to play the Open prompted monumental anger in Australia, which has undergone some the world’s hardest COVID-19 lockdowns and the place greater than 90% of adults are vaccinated, however hospitalisation charges proceed to hit report highs.
With international scientists and policymakers targeted on vaccinating as many individuals as doable to finish the pandemic, the refusal of Djokovic to get the jab has fuelled the anti-vaccination motion, particularly in his native Serbia and surrounding international locations.
The controversy over the tennis participant has turn into a political touchstone for Prime Minister Scott Morrison as he prepares for an election due by Could.
His authorities has gained assist at house for its powerful stance on border safety in the course of the pandemic, nevertheless it has confronted criticism for its dealing with of Djokovic’s visa utility.
Djokovic, scheduled to play fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovi within the first spherical of the Open, is searching a record-breaking twenty first Grand Slam title. However as a substitute of hitting Rod Laver Area on Monday, he may very well be deported on a flight out of Melbourne.
He has the choice of withdrawing and leaving Australia of his personal accord.
“Australian Open is rather more necessary than any participant,” stated Nadal, whom Djokovic considers his best rival on a tennis courtroom.
“If he is enjoying lastly, OK. If he isn’t enjoying, Australian Open will likely be nice … with or with out him.”