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Novak Djokovic has been detained by Australian border officials in line with the arrangement agreed in court as the world’s number one tennis player fights on to remain in the country.
Djokovic has had his visa revoked twice by immigration officials ahead of the Australian Open because he is not vaccinated against Covid-19, and saw immigration minister Alex Hawke again deny his application on Friday.
The 34-year-old Serbian is accused of providing false information on his visa declaration, and claiming that he had not traveled in the 14 days before he arrived in Australia.
Djokovic’s lawyers have appealed the decision and his case will be heard before Justice O’Callaghan at the Federal Court of Australia at 9.30am AEDT on Sunday.
“Today I exercised my power under section 133C(3) of the Migration Act to cancel the visa held by Mr Novak Djokovic on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so,” said Mr Hawke in a statement earlier on Friday.
“In making this decision, I carefully considered information provided to me by the Department of Home Affairs, the Australian Border Force (ABF) and Mr Djokovic. The Morrison Government is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
A 15-minute procedural hearing took place on Saturday morning AEDT to confirm Djokovic’s transfer into the custody of immigration authorities.
Justice O’Callaghan ruled that the Minister for Immigration had to file and serve any amended application by midday Saturday, and that Djokovic had to file his written submission by the same time.
Djokovic’s lawyers asked for the appeal hearing to be carried out before a full court of three judges, while the Australian government asked for it to be heard in front of just one judge in order to preserve appeals in the case.
Djokovic was interviewed by immigration officials on Saturday morning, but was allowed to spend Friday night at his own accommodation in Melbourne despite having his visa cancelled, reported The Australian.
Following the interview he was permitted to meet with his lawyers and is expected to spend Saturday night in pre-immigration detention as his case waits to be heard, according to reports.
The Australian government has agreed to not deport Djokovic until his case is argued, but if he loses his appeal he could be removed from the country.
Djokovic is tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer on 20 slams and whoever wins the next claims the record in men’s tennis.
Meanwhile, Serbian health officials have insisted the Djokovic received the results of his positive PCR test on 15 December by email, despite his claims that he did not get it until a day later.
Djokovic aid in a statement on 12 January that he did not get the results until after he attended a tennis even unmasked, where he met children.
Justice David O’Callaghan told lawyers for the tennis star that the appeal hearing would be heard at 9.30am on Sunday AEDT, one day before the Australian Open kicks off in Melbourne.