Locked in a dispute over his COVID-19 vaccination standing, Novak Djokovic was confined to an immigration detention lodge in Australia on Thursday because the No. 1 males’s tennis participant on the planet awaited a courtroom ruling on whether or not he can compete within the Australian Open later this month.
Djokovic, a vocal skeptic of vaccines, had traveled to Australia after Victoria state authorities granted him an exemption to the nation’s strict vaccination guidelines. However when he arrived late Wednesday, the Australian Border Power rejected his exemption as invalid and barred him from coming into the nation.
A courtroom listening to on his bid to stave off deportation was set for Monday, whereas the 34-year-old Serbian and defending Australian Open champion was compelled to attend it out in Melbourne at a safe lodge utilized by immigration officers to accommodate asylum seekers and refugees.
The event begins on Jan. 17.
Djokovic’s bid to get across the vaccine necessities in order that he may play has triggered an uproar and triggered allegations of particular therapy in Australia, the place folks spent months in lockdown and endured harsh journey restrictions on the peak of the pandemic.
After his long-haul flight, Djokovic spent the evening making an attempt to persuade authorities he had the required documentation, to no avail.
“The rule may be very clear,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison mentioned. “It’s good to have a medical exemption. He didn’t have a legitimate medical exemption. We make the decision on the border, and that’s the place it’s enforced.”
Well being Minister Greg Hunt mentioned the athlete’s visa was canceled after border officers reviewed Djokovic’s medical exemption and checked out “the integrity and the proof behind it.”
Whereas Djokovic has spoken out towards vaccines, he has steadfastly refused to say whether or not he has gotten any pictures towards the coronavirus, although it’s broadly presumed he wouldn’t have sought an exemption if he had been vaccinated.
Federal Circuit Choose Anthony Kelly adjourned Djokovic’s case to Monday. A lawyer for the federal government agreed the nine-time Australian Open champion and winner of 20 main titles shouldn’t be deported earlier than then.
“I really feel horrible since yesterday that they’re preserving him as a prisoner. It’s not honest. It’s not human. I hope that he’ll win,” Djokovic’s mom, Dijana, mentioned after talking with him briefly by phone from Belgrade.
She added: “Horrible, horrible lodging. It’s just a few small immigration lodge, if it’s lodge in any respect.”
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic mentioned that he had spoken to Djokovic and that his authorities requested that the athlete be allowed to maneuver to a home he has rented and “to not be in that notorious lodge.”
He added that Djokovic has been handled otherwise from different gamers.
“I’m afraid that this overkill will proceed,” Vucic mentioned. “When you may’t beat somebody, then you definately do such issues.”
Requested in regards to the confusion in Djokovic’s case, Morrison mentioned the onus is on the traveler to have the correct documentation on arrival.
The prime minister rejected any suggestion that Djokovic was being singled out however acknowledged that different gamers could also be in Australia on the identical sort of medical exemption.
“One of many issues the Border Power does is that they act on intelligence to direct their consideration to potential arrivals,” he mentioned. “Once you get folks making public statements about what they are saying they’ve, and so they’re going to do, they draw important consideration to themselves.”
Anybody who does that, he mentioned, “whether or not they’re a celeb, a politician, a tennis participant … they’ll anticipate to be requested questions greater than others earlier than you come.”
The medical exemption functions from gamers, their groups and event officers have been vetted by two unbiased panels of specialists.
Critics questioned what grounds Djokovic may have for the exemption, whereas supporters argued he has a proper to privateness and freedom of selection.
Many Australians who’ve struggled to acquire COVID-19 checks or have been compelled into isolation noticed a double normal.
Stress has grown amid one other surge of COVID-19 within the nation. Victoria state recorded six deaths and practically 22,000 new circumstances on Thursday, the largest one-day bounce within the caseload because the pandemic started.
Australian Open event director Craig Tiley on Wednesday defended the “utterly official software and course of” and insisted there was no particular therapy for Djokovic.
Twenty-six folks linked with the event utilized for a medical exemption and, Tiley mentioned, solely a “handful” have been granted. None of these have been publicly recognized
Acceptable causes for an exemption embrace main medical circumstances and severe reactions to a earlier dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Proof of a COVID-19 an infection inside the earlier six months has additionally been broadly reported to be grounds for an exemption, however that seems to be a matter of dispute between federal and state authorities.
Djokovic examined optimistic for the coronavirus in June 2020 after he performed in a sequence of exhibition matches that he organized with out social distancing amid the pandemic.
Related Press author Dusan Stojanovic in Belgrade, Serbia, and AP Sports activities Author Dennis Passa in Brisbane, Australia, contributed to this report.