Novak Djokovic: Nigel Farage criticises Australian government
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Novak Djokovic’s lawyers have revealed the extent of his alleged poor treatment after having his visa revoked upon arrival in Melbourne. The world’s top-ranked tennis star has been held in immigration detention since Wednesday after being denied entry into Australia due to his vaccination status.
Djokovic, a well-known anti-vaxxer, had travelled from Dubai to defend his Australian Open title after Tennis Australia granted him a medical exemption.
However, the Australian Border Force (ABF) seized him at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport, and his lawyers have now described the ongoings that allegedly followed, as per the Daily Mail.
The 34-year-old was kept at the airport for eight hours, during which security forced him to stay awake, it has been claimed.
They also refused to let him speak to his lawyers during the ordeal and ‘unlawfully’ cancelled his visa.
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Security within border control made a ‘mischievious and spurious’ effort to rush Djokovic into agreeing for them to revoke his visa, according to his lawyers.
Both parties would’ve known that, in turn, it prevented him from competing for a record-extending 10th Australian Open title later this month.
The Serbian star’s lawyers said he was ‘shocked and confused’ by his treatment overnight across Wednesday and Thursday.
In line with the medical exemption he received, he was confident he followed the authorities’ requirements for entering the country.
Djokovic’s solicitors have accused the ABF’s treatment as ‘procedurally unfair’ and argued that it doesn’t comply with natural justice.
Legal documents submitted for Monday’s hearing at the Federal Circuit and Family Court detail the series of events, which back up that accusation.
In an interview shortly after midnight following his arrival in Melbourne, Djokovic explained he had legitimately been granted a medical exemption due to his positive Covid test in December.
Three hours later, he was informed that the ABF would issue him with a notice revoking his visa, which he received just past 4am.
He asked to be given until at least 8am so he could contact Tennis Australia, his solicitors and his agent for advice, and an hour later, he was granted the chance to rest until that time.
While waiting on a sofa outside the interview room as his bed was being prepared, two officials told him there was no point seeking legal advice and that lawyers would be able to intervene once his visa was cancelled.
A ‘confused’ Djokovic was led to the room with a bed under the impression that he had until 8am, but half an hour later, around 6am, border security woke him up to push for a quick decision.
After standing by his request for an 8am decision, further pressure was applied before the Serb, acceptant that his visa would be cancelled regardless, relented and restarted the interview minutes later.
Djokovic, exhausted after his long flight to Australia and a stressful arrival, offered no further evidence to support his case.
An hour later, he was notified that his visa had been cancelled, leaving him ‘shocked’ at the direction in which the situation had gone.
The saga is ongoing with Djokovic currently in a detention hotel and waiting to find out if he will be deported. Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley broke his silence on Sunday and admitted he wants Djokovic to play at the Australian Open.
He told 9News Melbourne: “From the beginning of this journey, we have said that what’s of absolute priority is the safety of Australians from anyone coming in from overseas. That’s why we went on a journey of vaccination for everyone coming in, and actually, during the US Open, only 50 per cent of the playing group were vaccinated.
“Today, it’s more than 97 per cent [at the Australian Open] – that’s partly due to the efforts we made to get everyone vaccinated. However, on the course of this journey, as the introduction of medical exemptions were proceeded with, there was plenty of contradictory information, plenty of conflicting information.
“We were constantly seeking clarity from day one to ensure that we did the right thing and that we were able to bring players into the country with the prime example of everyone being safe. All the information and knowledge we had at the time, we supplied the players [with].”
He continued: “Remember, at the beginning, we were saying the condition in which you can be assured to come into Australia is to meet the requirements of the certain vaccines that were valid in Australia and to get vaccinated with those vaccines. And then there’s always going to be a handful of people, as it would be with people normally coming to Australia, not just tennis, that require medical reasons exemptions.
“We worked closely with the Victorian government to ensure that was actually two panels, two processes that only a small handful of people had to go through in order for them to be exempt. That was done and managed through the state government.” Asked about whether Djokovic should be able to play, he added: “I would like to see him [Novak Djokovic] play at the Australian Open.”
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