World number one tennis player Novak Djokovic was returned to administrative detention on Saturday after the cancellation of his visa for the second time by the Australian government the day before, and pending a court decision on his case, according to court documents.
The presence in Australia of Djokovic, who is not vaccinated against Covid-19, “could encourage anti- vaccination”, estimated the Australian authorities in a brief presented to the courts, considering that the Serb should be expelled from the country.
Friday during a hearing before a judge, the government representative Australian had indicated that the 34 year old player would not be deported until the justice had definitively ruled on his request to block his expulsion. But he had warned that Djokovic should wait for this decision in administrative detention.
It is the Australian federal justice which is now in charge of the file, at the request of the Melbourne judge on Friday who had been seized in the first place by the lawyers of the tennis player. This change of court is likely to slow down the procedure, estimated the defenders of Djokovic.
Djokovic admitted to having incorrectly filled out his declaration of entry into Australia, and not having respected the rules of isolation after testing positive for Covid-19 in December — a contamination he hoped would allow him to benefit from an exemption to enter Australia without being vaccinated.
“Nole” had been deported on his arrival in Melbourne on January 5 and placed in a detention center. But his lawyers had obtained from a judge on 10 January that he restore his visa and order his immediate release.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke , making use of its discretionary power in the matter, however canceled Djokovic’s visa once again on Friday “on health and public order grounds”.
The player of 34 years was planning to run for a 10e title at the Australian Open, which starts on Monday, and a 21e Grand Slam victory, which would be a record.