Australia rushes to file defense of Djokovic ban as court battle looms
Djokovic had been hoping to win his 21st Grand Slam at the Australian Open, starting next week, but instead of training he was confined to a hotel used to accommodate asylum seekers. He is challenging the decision to cancel his visa after being arrested upon arriving at Melbourne Airport early Thursday.
A vocal opponent of vaccination warrants, Djokovic had refused to disclose his vaccination status or the reason he had requested a medical exemption from Australian vaccine rules. He broke his silence on Saturday with a court challenge claiming he had obtained an exemption due to the contraction – and recovery – of the virus in December.
The Melbourne drama rocked world tennis, sparked tensions between Serbia and Australia and became a flashpoint for opponents of vaccine mandates around the world.
Australia said its health department informed the host organization of the Tennis Australia tournament in November that a recent COVID-19 infection was not necessarily grounds for exemption in the country, as is the case elsewhere. Djokovic’s trial indicates that the Interior Ministry wrote to him this month to tell him that he had met the requirements to enter the country.
Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said in his first media interview since the fury started that his organization had spoken with federal and state officials for months to ensure the safe passage of players.
“Mainly because there is (so) a lot of conflicting information all the time, every week we were talking to Home Affairs, we were talking to all parts of the government to make sure that … we were doing the right thing and ( were going through) the right process with these exemptions, ”Tiley told Channel Nine television.
“The conflicting information and the conflicting information we received were due to the changing environment. We are in a difficult environment. ”
The Home Office, which was due to file its defense on Sunday, has requested a postponement of the hearing on the case from Monday to Wednesday, a court official told Reuters. The request was dismissed, according to a decision posted on the Federal Court’s website.
Djokovic’s lawyers will have up to two hours to present their case from 10:00 a.m. (03:00 GMT) on Monday, while the government department will have two hours to present its defense from 3:00 p.m., the Federal Circuit Court ruled and of the family.
A spokesperson for Home Affairs was not immediately available to comment on his legal defense.
SPOTLIGHT ON REFUGEES
Health Minister Greg Hunt, asked about the fury at a press conference on Sunday, declined to comment as he was in court, but noted that several others involved in the tournament had their visas revoked.
Finance Minister Simon Birmingham, when asked about the matter on Channel 9 television, said without referring directly to Djokovic that “there is a clear difference between visas and entry requirements” and “the conditions for entry. entry… in addition to visa requirements ”.
Czech player Renata Voracova https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/tennis-player-voracova-left-australia-after-visa-issues-czech-foreign-ministry-2022-01-08, who was detained in the same detention hotel as Djokovic and had her visa revoked after problems with her vaccine exemption, left the country without contesting her status, the Czech Foreign Ministry said.
Djokovic’s situation drew an unlikely crowd to the modest Melbourne hotel which, until this month, was best known for media reports of the asylum-seeking occupants claiming that they had been served food containing maggots.
Anti-vaccine protesters, refugee advocates and Djokovic fans converged in front of the building, which is under police surveillance.
“We’re sorry he was detained, but we ask you: why does it take a celebrity presence to draw attention to our plight?” Said Bangladeshi refugee Mohammad Joy Miah, who has been in the center since 2020.
As the hotel’s windows do not open, Miah gave his speech over the phone, which a supporter threw through a megaphone during a protest outside the property on Sunday.
Home Affairs was not immediately available to respond to Miah’s comments.
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said Djokovic was given gluten-free food, tools to exercise and a SIM card to stay in touch with the outside world.
“It’s a positive tone on the Australian side. The Serbian government is ready to provide all the guarantees necessary for Novak to be allowed to enter Australia, the Serbian president is also involved, ”said Brnabic.