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Novak Djokovic news LIVE: Court hearing to decide world number one’s Australian Open fate

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  • Novak Djokovic
    Novak Djokovic
    Serbian tennis player

Novak Djokovic’s fate will be decided at a court hearing on Monday and the world number one has been allowed out of immigration detention to follow proceedings. The Australian government tried to push the hearing back by 48 hours but a court order by Judge Anthony Kelly said it had been “refused without prejudice” and that the case would be heard at 10am on Monday.

The case centres around whether Australia’s government and border force have made errors in their handling of Djokovic’s visa and their decision to revoke it. The Serbian claims he satisfied the requirements for a medical exemption because he contracted Covid-19 in December, but the Australian government says that the rule allowing those who have previously had the virus only applies to Australian residents re-entering the country, not visitors.

Djokovic has been in detention in a quarantine hotel in Melbourne ever since Thursday but has been allowed to leave to watch these proceedings elsewhere alongside his legal team. Follow all the latest news and updates from Djokovic’s hearing below.

Novak Djokovic latest news and updates

  • Court hearing to decide Novak Djokovic’s fate takes place in Melbourne

  • What to expect and who will be speaking

  • Proceedings delayed by technical difficulties with video stream

  • Djokovic allowed out of detention to watch court hearing

  • Australian government fails in bid to delay proceedings until Wednesday

  • Andy Murray calls saga ‘really bad for tennis'

Djokovic fans in full voice

04:25 , Ben Burrows

Djokovic’s fans have come out in force to support their hero despite rising temperatures in Melbourne today.

It’s 28 degrees downtown but more than a hundred supporters gathered outside the Federal Court as they wait see whether their man will win his case.

Local reports suggest they were in good voice too singing various songs and dancing, although many have now retreated to the shade as the proceedings go on into the afternoon.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Court hearing set to resume after lunch break

04:12 , Ben Burrows

The court hearing which will decide whether Novak Djokovic is allowed to enter Australia and defend his Australian Open title is set to resume after a short adjournment for lunch.

The men’s world number one was denied entry to the country last Thursday after border officials refused to grant him a visa.

Djokovic’s vaccination status was key with his contention that a recent positive Covid test was enough for a medical exemption not enough to get through the country’s strict immigration rules.

He has been held in detention ever since but has been allowed out to follow these proceedings today alongside his legal team.

Nicholas Wood, representing Djokovic, has made his oral submissions on behalf of his client this morning with Christopher Tran, representing the state today, set to begin arguing his case shortly.

It looks set to centre on Djokovic’s experience at Melbourne airport and the border official’s handling of his case. Judge Anthony Kelly earlier questioned “what more could this man have done?” upon his arrival.

Got all of that? Yes? Lovely. Then off we go.

 (BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)
(BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

Victoria defends role in Djokovic saga

03:58 , Ben Burrows

This situation has shed light on the differences in policy between Australia and the states within Australia.

Victorian health minister Martin Foley says the role of his state in this whole saga has always been clear.

“Once you’re approved to get into the country, we had an independent, arm’s length process that compared anonymously - without any identifying features - the expert medical considerations as to whether you are eligible to play in a tournament,” he said in a press conference on Monday.

“Not whether you are eligible to get [into the] country. We determine who enters a tournament in partnership with Tennis Australia, we don’t determine who gets a visa.

"Only one level of government determines that visa, and it’s not the Victorian government.”

Live stream issues pose problem for ‘open justice'

03:42 , Ben Burrows

Media lawyer Justin Quill claims the live streaming problems that have beset these proceedings so far pose a threat to just how “open” the hearing is.

“The risk is high that if the technology fails you have zero open justice, you have secret justice,” he says.

“And in a case like this, that can lead to rumours, speculation and innuendo about what’s really going on.

“That sentiment comes directly from a precedence about the importance of maintaining open justice even when to do so causes great difficulty.”

Timeline of saga so far

03:33 , Ben Burrows

A reminder of how we got to this point where the world’s best tennis player’s participation in the first grand slam of the year is being decided by a group of lawyers over a Zoom link.

The nine-time champion in Melbourne was denied entry to Australia on Thursday last week and has been kept at a state-run quarantine hotel in the suburb of Carlton ever since, with the Australian Border Force denying the 34-year-old any preferential treatment.

The saga has become a major diplomatic incident with Australians furious that Djokovic, who has openly opposed vaccinations, was granted an exemption to enter the country.

Meanwhile, Serbian politicians have fiercely criticised the actions of the Australian authorities, accusing Scott Morrison’s government of attempting to persecute and humiliate Djokovic.

Here’s a timeline of how we got to this point.

Timeline of Novak Djokovic’s visa saga in Australia

Djokovic’s airport experience likely to prove key

03:11 , Ben Burrows

Djokovic's experience at the airport upon arrival in Australia is likely to prove key to his case.

A tired and confused Djokovic claims that he asked for extra time to speak to his agent and his lawyers and that his request was granted before he was woken up at 6am and urged to agree to the visa cancellation as it was in his best interest to do so.

His legal team say this advice was "spurious" and "manifestly unjust".

It is being argued that this treatment by border officials when he arrived in Melbourne was unfair and, if deemed to be so, could be the basis of him winning the verdict.

Australia outlines counter-arguments

03:07 , Ben Burrows

Ahead of the adjournment for lunch Christopher Tran, representing the state in these proceedings, has outlined how he will argue his case after the break.

It looks set to centre on Djokovic’s experience at Melbourne airport and the border official’s handling of his case.

Tran says he will use a handful of cases - including two where he himself argued and lost - to make his arguments.

Tomic ‘praying for a good outcome'

02:55 , Ben Burrows

Djokovic has some support from within tennis as well as from fans around the world.

Close friend Bernard Tomic says he's "praying for a good outcome" from today's hearing.

"I have made him aware that I will be praying for a good outcome whatever that may be," the Australian said.

Australia begin their submissions

02:40 , Ben Burrows

Christopher Tran is now up, arguing for the state against Djokovic.

He will have around half an hour to speak before the court breaks for lunch.

Tran begins by returning to Djokovic’s experience at the airport once more and making it “crystal clear” that border officials present upon his arrival did not intend to put any pressure on him.

Judge Kelly suggests that the evidence doesn’t suggest Djokovic was pressured but that that doesn’t “kill the point” that he may have felt he was.

Djokovic’s legal team conclude oral submissions

02:37 , Ben Burrows

Djokovic’s legal team have concluded their oral submissions.

They have argued that their client should have been and should now be granted entry to Australia for next week’s Australian Open, where the Serbian is the defending champion.

We will later soon hear the counter argument from the legal team representing Australia in these proceedings, who will make the case that the decision made last week to deny the men’s world number one a visa was the correct - and legal - course of action.

It is expected we will get a verdict today, although proceedings are already running longer than originally anticipated.

Australian border requirements are ‘black and white'

02:22 , Ben Burrows

Australian deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce says requirements for entry to the country are "black and white"

“It was made quite clear by the health minister Greg Hunt that having Covid-19 is not enough, you have to be double vaccinated,” he said ahead of today's hearing.

He also insisted that everyone, Djokovic included, is treated the same and no one gets any special treatment.

“We will do what’s right and we will do what follows the process. We are not making special exemptions for people because they’re rich and famous, that’s not how Australia works,” he added.

“It was made quite clear by the Federal Government that you had to have had the double vaccination and the health minister made that absolutely black-and-white clear.”

Djokovic given permission to leave detention

02:11 , Ben Burrows

It is being reported in Australia that Djokovic has been instructed by Judge Anthony Kelly to be temporarily allowed to leave detention in order for him to watch these proceedings from somewhere other than the Park Hotel in Melbourne.

He says that Djokovic should stay with his legal representatives “until the conclusion of each hearing and to secure his safe return to detention upon the conclusion of each hearing”.

It is not stated where Djokovic is watching this hearing from.

Djokovic’s legal team argue their case

02:05 , Ben Burrows

Nick Wood, representing Djokovic in this hearing, claims that the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation say that a valid reason for an exemption is for "an acute major medical condition" which a "PCR confirmed infection” qualifies.

It has already been established that Djokovic tested positive for Covid sometime last month which, according to Wood, means his client would qualify for an exemption to enter the country.

Djokovic’s brother hits out treatment

01:54 , Ben Burrows

Novak Djokovic's brother has again spoken out against the treatment of the world number one while he is being detained in Melbourne.

“He is in a room that is facing another wall,” Djorde Djokovic told Serbian media. “Probably to prove him that they’re stronger”.

Tennis Australia have come in for heavy criticism for the situation but Djordje has suggested they - and boss Craig Tiley - are not to blame.

“I think Tennis Australia did a good job,” he added. “People should not go after Craig Tiley, because he made an effort and tried, although it’s a big mistake if there were holes in the communication.”

Djokovic’s rivals prepare for Australian Open

01:45 , Ben Burrows

From a purely tennis point of view, this last few days are the last thing Djokovic needed before he hopes to be able to defend his Australian Open title.

Ever since being denied entry to the country last week the world number one has been confined to a quarantine hotel with little or no exercise possible and less than optimal nutrition.

It's a far cry from his usual pain-staking preparations.

Meanwhile, rival Rafael Nadal returned from injury to play his first tournament since August, the Melbourne Summer Set, a won it with victory over USA’s Maxime Cressy in Sunday’s final.

Elsewhere, Daniil Medvedev, who beat Djokovic in the US Open final last year, and Alexander Zverev both got some much needed court time with Russia and Germany in the ATP Cup.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Djokovic’s legal team make their case

01:33 , Ben Burrows

As the hearing continues here’s a reminder of what Djokovic’s legal team are attempting to argue.

They claim the Serb was granted a vaccine exemption to enter Australia because he contracted Covid-19 last month.

In court documents published on Saturday, it was stated Djokovic recorded a positive test on December 16, and has “not had a fever or respiratory symptoms of Covid-19 in the last 72 hours”.

According to his legal team, Djokovic was also provided with a letter from the Chief Medical Officer of Tennis Australia recording he had a medical exemption from Covid vaccination.

It is claimed that the exemption certificate was “provided by an Independent Expert Medical Review panel commissioned by Tennis Australia”, and that “the decision of that panel had been reviewed and endorsed by an independent Medical Exemptions Review Panel of the Victorian State Government”.

Live stream of court hearing continues to be down

01:22 , Ben Burrows

The feed of the court hearing continues to be down with more technical difficulties.

The video stream of proceedings wasn’t accessible to the general public for around 45 minutes after the scheduled start time of 10am in Melbourne and there is currently another outage now.

We are assured that the feed will return soon.

Djokovic ‘ticked every box'

01:13 , Ben Burrows

Djokovic's legal team says that their client made the declaration he was required to make and provided evidence to back it up even though he wasn't required to.

Nick Wood, representing Djokovic, says this amounts to all the requirements for quarantine-free entry into Australia.

He adds that in the transcript of conversations at the border, Djokovic was confused as to why he was being denied entry to the country.

"Any reasonable person would assume they had ticked every box," he says.

‘What more could Djokovic have done?'

00:55 , Ben Burrows

Judge Kelly says a “matter that has really preoccupied me” is why Tennis Australia's documentation was not accepted by the delegate at the border making the decision on Djokovic’s visa.

"Here, a professor and an eminently qualified physician have produced and provided the applicant a medical exemption," he says.

"Further to that, that medical exemption and the basis on which it was given was separately given by a further independent expert specialist panel established by the Victorian state government and that document was in the hands of the delegate.

"The point I am agitated about is ‘what more could this man have done?’"

Feed of court hearing goes down

00:54 , Ben Burrows

We are currently waiting for the feed to come back after more technical difficulties.

For those who weren’t with us earlier, the feed wasn’t accessible to the general public for around 45 minutes after the scheduled start time of 10am in Melbourne.

There are apparently too many people trying to access the Zoom link over which the hearing is taking place.

Court hearing underway to decide Djokovic’s fate

00:45 , Ben Burrows

The hearing is now well up and running and is being witnessed by the general public after those earlier technical difficulties.

Djokovic’s legal team are presenting evidence as to why their client should have been and should still be allowed into Australia to compete at the Australian Open.

The tournament starts a week today.

The commonwealth will in turn, via their own legal representative, make their case as to why their original decision - to deny Djokovic entry into the country, was the correct - and legal - course of action.

Djokovic attempted to assist border officials

00:31 , Ben Burrows

Djokovic made a written statement to confirm he had a medical exemption for being vaccinated against Covid before he boarded his flight to Australia from Dubai.

Djokovic's legal team claim that he did not then have to provide evidence why he was exempt, only that he would do so when required to.

Judge Kelly points to written evidence that Djokovic offered to assist those at the border.

"If you let me talk to people even though you've taken my phone from me, I will try and give you what you want," Djokovic is said to have stated.

00:18 , Ben Burrows

Judge Kelly says that the decision to deny Djokovic a visa came down to the fact it was decided that his presence was "a risk to the health, safety or good order of the Australian community".

Wood contends that this is a “confusing blend of two grounds”. Kelly doesn't agree.

00:12 , Ben Burrows

A reminder of today’s players.

Judge Anthony Kelly is presiding over the hearing and will, ultimately, be the one who decides Novak Djokovic’s fate.

Djokovic’s legal team comprises Nick Wood and Paul Holdenson. Christopher Tran is representing home affairs minister Karen Andrews and, by extension, Australia.

Djokovic and Andrews, the central characters in this saga, won’t be speaking.

Djokovic case could cost Australians thousands

Sunday 9 January 2022 23:58 , Ben Burrows

Justin Quill, a partner at Thomson Geer Lawyers, believes this case could cost Australian taxpayers thousands of dollars in fees.

"Novak Djokovic, if he wins this case, he'll seek his costs," he told The Project on Sunday night.

"If they win tomorrow, $250,000 to the government lawyers, probably a couple of hundred thousand to Novak to pay his legal fees.

"We're getting close to half a million and that's just if there's no appeal."

Djokovic’s team being quizzed by judge

Sunday 9 January 2022 23:56 , Ben Burrows

Djokovic’s legal team of Nick Wood and Paul Holdenson are being questioned by Judge Anthony Kelly about the timeline of events that led to the cancellation of Djokovic’s visa and, specifically, when they were notified of the intention to cancel it.

Judge Kelly tells Wood to “drag yourself back to the last century - I hate acronyms.”

“There’ll be no Noics, there’ll be no Oinks or anything else of that nature.”

So that’s at least something settled so far.

Court hearing begins despite video stream problems

Sunday 9 January 2022 23:44 , Ben Burrows

The hearing has now started - although nobody outside of the hearing itself can see it.

The technical difficulties remain and are still being worked on but the lawyers working on behalf of Djokovic and the Australian government have begun their work.

Both parties have between 90 and 120 minutes to make their cases before a judge will make a final decision.

Djokovic claims medical exemption from Covid vaccination

Sunday 9 January 2022 23:42 , Ben Burrows

According to his legal team, Djokovic was provided with a letter from the Chief Medical Officer of Tennis Australia recording he had a medical exemption from Covid vaccination.

It is claimed that the exemption certificate was "provided by an Independent Expert Medical Review panel commissioned by Tennis Australia", and that "the decision of that panel had been reviewed and endorsed by an independent Medical Exemptions Review Panel of the Victorian State Government".

Djokovic's lawyers added that he was granted an "Australian Travel Declaration" because he was told by the authorities that [he met] the requirements for a quarantine-free arrival into Australia".

Djokovic could remain detained even if he wins appeal

Sunday 9 January 2022 23:32 , Ben Burrows

The latest wrinkle in proceedings to emerge today is that Djokovic could still remain in detention in Australia even if he wins his appeal against the cancellation of his visa.

“An order for immediate release does not prevent re-detention if there is power to detain,” a document released by Australia’s Home Affairs Department on Sunday read.

There is also no guarantee Djokovic will be able to play in the tournament that begins next week, even if he does succeed today.

The government claim they have the power to make “another cancellation decision” in that scenario. Stay tuned.

Murray calls Djokovic saga ‘really not good for tennis at all’

Sunday 9 January 2022 23:20 , Ben Burrows

Former British number one Andy Murray has expressed concern for the Serbian and says his predicament is “really not good for tennis at all”.

“I think everyone is shocked by it, to be honest,” five-time Australian Open finalist Murray told reporters in Australia.

“I’m going to say two things on it just now. The first thing is that I hope that Novak is OK. I know him well, and I’ve always had a good relationship with him and I hope that he’s OK.

“The second thing, it’s really not good for tennis at all, and I don’t think it’s good for anyone involved. I think it’s really bad.”

Court hearing delayed by technical difficulties

Sunday 9 January 2022 23:16 , Ben Burrows

The hearing itself was meant to begin at 10am Melbourne time (11pm UK) but is yet to start because of technical difficulties.

The court say they are aware and are working to rectify the situation.

As if we needed any more drama.

Djokovic vaccine views spark controversy

Sunday 9 January 2022 23:05 , Ben Burrows

Djokovic’s views on vaccines are a subject of much controversy.

In April 2020 Djokovic said that he was opposed to vaccines. He later clarified that he was “no expert” but that he wanted to explore other options.

During a Facebook event he said he “wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine” to travel to tournaments, and that he was “curious about wellbeing and how we can empower our metabolism to be in the best shape to defend against imposters like Covid-19.”

Rival Rafael Nadal says Djokovic knew there would be “consequences” of his decision.

“I went through the Covid, I have been vaccinated twice. If you do this, you don’t have any problem to play here. That’s the only clear thing,” the Spaniard said this week.

“The only for me clear thing is if you are vaccinated, you can play in the Australian Open and everywhere, and the world in my opinion have been suffering enough to not follow the rules.

“He made his own decisions, and everybody is free to take their own decisions, but then there are some consequences,” he added of Djokovic.

“Of course I don’t like the situation that is happening. In some way I feel sorry for him. But at the same time, he knew the conditions since a lot of months ago, so he makes his own decision.

“The only thing that I can say is I believe in what the people who know about medicine says, and if those people say that we need to get vaccinated, we need to get the vaccine.”

What to expect at the Djokovic hearing

Sunday 9 January 2022 22:58 , Ben Burrows

Right then, the hearing is set to get underway and this is what we can expect.

The judge presiding is Judge Anthony Kelly. The lawyers for Djokovic are Nick Wood SC and Paul Holdenson QC. The lawyer acting on behalf of home affairs minister Karen Andrews is Christopher Tran. Djokovic himself will not be present.

Djokovic's side will argue that the original visa decision is invalid on a number of grounds and should be overturned.

The government will argue the opposite and that Djokovic did not provide adequate evidence for quarantine-free entry to Australia.

Both parties are set to give oral submissions virtually that are expected to be between 90 and 120 minutes.

There are then four possible outcomes.

Djokovic wins the case and is allowed to stay and play at the Australian Open.

He could also not win the case but with no immediate decision from the hearing could be given special permission to stay and play while a decision is made.

He could also not lose the case but also not be given permission to stay and he subsequently leaves the country. He could lose the case and be deported from Australia immediately.

Got all that? Right, on we go.

 (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
(Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Australian Open chief blames ‘challenging environment'

Sunday 9 January 2022 22:45 , Ben Burrows

Australian Open chief Craig Tiley on Sunday blamed conflicting and quickly changing directives in a "challenging environment" for the confusion that resulted in Novak Djokovic being refused entry to Australia on a medical exemption.

Tiley refused to apportion blame for the saga over Djokovic's exemption from the mandate that people entering the country be vaccinated against coronavirus.

He said Tennis Australia had engaged in discussions with federal and Victoria state officials for several months in order to ensure the safe passage of players into the country.

"We are not going to lay the blame at anyone," Tiley said. "All I can say is that, primarily because there is (so) much contradictory information the whole time, every single week we were talking to home affairs, we were talking to all parts of government to ensure that one, we were doing the right thing, and the right process with these exemptions.

"The conflicting information, and the contradictory information we received, was because of the changing environment. We are in a challenging environment."

Djokovic one of two players detained

Sunday 9 January 2022 22:33 , Ben Burrows

Djokovic was one of two players put into detention in the hotel that also houses refugees and asylum seekers. A third person, reported to be an official, left the country voluntarily after border force investigations.

The other player was 38-year-old doubles specialist Renata Voracova, who had already been in Australia for a week before an investigation by the border officials. The Czech foreign ministry said Voracova voluntarily left Australia after deciding not to appeal the decision.

The court hearing on Monday will determine whether Djokovic is not far behind her.

 (Getty Images for LTA)
(Getty Images for LTA)

Djokovic visa row becomes political issue in Australia and afar

Sunday 9 January 2022 22:15 , Ben Burrows

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, who said "rules are rules" and that incoming passengers were responsible for meeting border regulations, has been accused of taking advantage of Djokovic's case to improve his battered standings in popularity polls ahead of a looming election.

Djokovic's plight has prompted claims from Serbia that Djokovic is being treated like a prisoner.

The player himself appears to have become a standard-bearer for anti-vaccine groups, including some people who've gathered outside for support outside his immigration hotel.

Australian Open organisers have been been taking some heat over the Djokovic situation, and with apparent good reason.

Tennis Australia, which runs the tournament and organizes the logistics for more than 2,000 incoming players, staff and officials, reportedly gave incorrect interpretations to players about the acceptable grounds for an exemption.

That included the interpretation that having had a coronavirus infection within the previous six months would qualify. Organizers have blamed the federal government for its mixed messages on the policy.

Details of court documents emerge

Sunday 9 January 2022 21:55 , Ben Burrows

Australian media have reported details of the court documents expected to entered into testimony on Monday.

It showed Djokovic received a letter from Tennis Australia's chief medical officer on 30 December "recording that he had been provided with a 'medical exemption from Covid vaccination' on the grounds that he had recently recovered from Covid."

It said Djokovic's first positive test was 16 December and, on the date of issue, the exemption said the 34-year-old player "had not had a fever or respiratory symptoms in the past 72 hours."

Djokovic attended a 17 December event in Belgrade honoring young tennis players. The event was covered by local media, and parents posted photos on social media showing Djokovic and the children not wearing masks. It's not clear if Djokovic knew the results of his test at the time.

On 14 December, Djokovic had attended a Euroleague basketball game between Red Star and Barcelona in a packed sports hall in Belgrade.

He was photographed hugging several players of both teams, including some who soon later tested positive.

Djokovic’s family hold rally of support

Sunday 9 January 2022 21:37 , Ben Burrows

In Serbia on Saturday, Djokovic’s family held a rally in support of him in Belgrade for the third successive day, and prime minister Ana Brnabic assured him of her government’s support over his visa battle to ensure he can enter Australia and defend his Australian Open title.

The tournament begins 17 January - just a week from his court date.

“We’ve managed to make sure gluten-free food is delivered to him, as well as exercising tools, a laptop and a SIM card so that he is able to be in contact with his family,” Brnabic said.

It comes as Australian media reported that immigration officials denied a request to have Djokovic’s personal chef cook meals for him in the immigration hotel.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Australian government fail in attempt to delay case

Sunday 9 January 2022 21:20 , Ben Burrows

On Sunday, Australian media reported that a federal government bid for extra time to prepare its case against Djokovic was denied.

The application, made on behalf of home affairs minister Karen Andrews during the weekend, sought to adjourn the final hearing by two days — just five days from the start of the Australian Open.

Federal circuit court judge Anthony Kelly refused the application and the case will resume on Monday as planned.

Njokovic set for his day in court

Sunday 9 January 2022 21:06 , Ben Burrows

Right then, this is where we’re at with Djokovic set to get his day in court in a little under two hours time.

Djokovic had his visa canceled after arriving at Melbourne airport last week when Australian border officials ruled that he didn’t meet the criteria for an exemption to an entry requirement that all non-citizens be fully vaccinated for Covid.

His lawyers have since filed court papers in his challenge against deportation from Australia that show Djokovic tested positive for Covid last month and recovered. He used that as grounds in applying for a medical exemption to Australia’s strict vaccination rules.

The case is scheduled for a virtual hearing to appeal the visa cancellation. It will take place at 10am local time in Melbourne in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.

Novak Djokovic: Timeline of tennis star’s visa saga in Australia

Sunday 9 January 2022 20:45 , Jamie Braidwood

Novak Djokovic’s entry into Australia has made headlines across the world and the story is set to take another twist tonight. Here is a timeline of how the saga has unfolded so far:

Timeline of Novak Djokovic’s visa saga in Australia

Australian government fails in bid to delay visa hearing

Sunday 9 January 2022 20:28 , Jamie Braidwood

In case you missed it earlier, the Australian government has failed in a bid to delay Novak Djokovic’s visa hearing until after the Australian Open draw is finalised.

In an order published on Sunday, Judge Anthony Kelly rejected the submission by home affairs minister Karen Andrews to push tonight’s hearing to Wednesday.

Djokovic’s lawyers have claimed the Serb was granted a vaccine exemption to enter Australia because he contracted Covid-19 last month.

Djokovic’s fans on edge as hearing looms

Sunday 9 January 2022 20:11 , Jamie Braidwood

Novak Djokovic’s parents joined a protest rally in downtown Belgrade on Sunday with their tennis-great son still in an Australian immigration detention hotel as fans of Djokovic in Serbia nervously awaited a crucial court hearing which could decide whether he can play at the Australian Open.

The virtual hearing in Melbourne with Djokovic appealing his visa cancellation, comes amid a growing public debate over his positive coronavirus test that his lawyers used as grounds in applying for a medical exemption to Australia’s strict vaccination rules.

Djokovic’s Serb fans on edge as Australia visa hearing looms

Djokovic’s defence case

Sunday 9 January 2022 19:47 , Lawrence Ostlere

Djokovic’s lawyers have claimed the Serb was granted a vaccine exemption to enter Australia because he contracted Covid-19 last month.

In court documents published on Saturday, it was stated Djokovic recorded a positive test on December 16, and has “not had a fever or respiratory symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 72 hours”.

Djokovic has been detained at an immigration facility in Melbourne since Thursday morning after his visa was cancelled following scrutiny of the medical exemption he had secured to travel to the first tennis major of the year.

According to his legal team, Djokovic was also provided with a letter from the Chief Medical Officer of Tennis Australia recording he had a medical exemption from Covid vaccination.

It is claimed that the exemption certificate was “provided by an Independent Expert Medical Review panel commissioned by Tennis Australia”, and that “the decision of that panel had been reviewed and endorsed by an independent Medical Exemptions Review Panel of the Victorian State Government”.

Government bid to delay Djokovic hearing rejected

Sunday 9 January 2022 19:27 , Lawrence Ostlere

The Australian government’s efforts to delay Djokovic’s hearing failed. Full story:

Australian government fails in bid to delay Novak Djokovic visa hearing

Barty wins Australian Open warm-up

Sunday 9 January 2022 19:11 , Lawrence Ostlere

World number one Ashleigh Barty underlined her Australian Open credentials by claiming victory at the Adelaide International 1 warm-up event.

The Wimbledon champion eased past seventh seed Elena Rybakina 6-3 6-2 on Sunday to wrap up her 14th WTA singles title in just 64 minutes.

Australian Barty is favourite to triumph on home soil when the first grand slam of 2022 begins in Melbourne a week on Monday.

Ashleigh Barty warms up for Australian Open with Adelaide title

Andy Murray speaks out on Djokovic saga

Sunday 9 January 2022 18:48 , Lawrence Ostlere

Andy Murray: “I think everyone is shocked by it to be honest. I’m going to say two things on it just now. The first thing is that I hope that Novak is OK. I know him well, and I’ve always had a good relationship with him and I hope that he’s OK.

“It’s really not good for tennis at all, and I don’t think it’s good for anyone involved.”

Full story:

Andy Murray speaks out on Novak Djokovic situation that has left players ‘shocked’

Djokovic profile

Sunday 9 January 2022 18:23 , Lawrence Ostlere

The world No 1’s attempts to play this month’s Australian Open is the latest saga in a career that has been underpinned by dogged self-belief – wherever that leads.

How Novak Djokovic became a tennis star always seeking to walk his own path

Djokovic former coach criticises star

Sunday 9 January 2022 18:01 , Lawrence Ostlere

The former head coach of the Serbia Davis Cup team, Bogdan Obradovic, has panned the actions and approach of Novak Djokovic.

He clarified that he has no relationship with the current star, having endured a falling out after leaving the international team scene in 2017 - and claims Djokovic’s plant-based diet is nothing more than an “experiment” which he doesn’t understand.

“I have zero contact with Novak. I have no contact with Novak. Nor do we wish each other a happy New Year, or Christmas, children’s birthdays, nothing… For what reason and why? The moment I left the national team, we got into a conflict.

“To this day I believe I was right.

“Novak is surrounded by some extreme nonsense. He went into such an experiment of something that he doesn’t even know what it’s about.”

PTPA in touch with Djokovic

Sunday 9 January 2022 17:37 , Lawrence Ostlere

The Professional Tennis Players Association say they have been in contact with Novak Djokovic and called on Australia to allow both vaccinated and unvaccinated athletes to be allowed to partake in the Australian Open, pending “approved medical exemptions”.

A statement read: “The PTPA has been in close contact with Mr. Djokovic, his family and legal counsel, government officials, and Australian Open leadership. Mr. Djokovic has verified his well-being to us. He has also requested that we allow him to personally share the facts of his detainment in his own words, and in his own time.

“With the utmost respect for all personal views on vaccinations, vaccinated athletes and unvaccinated athletes (with an approved medical exemption) should both be afforded the freedom to compete.

“We will continue to support and advocate for our members, and all players, in a manner that is acceptable to them.”

Voracova on Djokovic

Sunday 9 January 2022 17:09 , Lawrence Ostlere

Doubles player Renata Voracova has become the second Australian Open hopeful to have their visa cancelled and is now reportedly being held in the same quarantine hotel as Novak Djokovic.

Voracova, who had already competed in a warm-up event in Melbourne, is said to have obtained a vaccine exemption on the basis that she had been infected with Covid-19 in the past six months - the same reason used by Djokovic.

“I’m in a room and I can’t go anywhere,” Voracova told Czech dailies DNES and Sport.

“My window is shut tight, I can’t open it five centimetres (two inches). And there are guards everywhere, even under the window, which is quite funny. Maybe they thought I would jump and run away,

“They bring me food and there’s a guard in the corridor. You have to report, everything is rationed. I feel a bit like in prison.”

Voracova says she will not be appealing the decision and is likely to leave over the weekend, but hopes that Djokovic is allowed to play at the AO.

“We are athletes, we have come here to play tennis and not to deal with disputes behind the scenes,” she added.

Novak Djokovic news

Sunday 9 January 2022 16:52 , Lawrence Ostlere

World number one Ashleigh Barty underlined her Australian Open credentials by claiming victory at the Adelaide International 1 warm-up event.

The Wimbledon champion eased past seventh seed Elena Rybakina 6-3 6-2 on Sunday to wrap up her 14th WTA singles title in just 64 minutes.

Australian Barty is favourite to triumph on home soil when the first grand slam of 2022 begins in Melbourne a week on Monday.

“I feel good leading up to an Australian Open, like I have every year,” said Barty, according to wtatennis.com.

“Each and every preparation is unique, each and every preparation is different, so we take it for what comes and what it is, move on, try and do the best that we can in every opportunity, whether that’s here in Adelaide or it’s in Melbourne.

“It has absolutely no effect on the way that I prepare or the way I’m thinking leading forward just because it’s a grand slam.

“We look forward, we do what we can, then we see how we go.”

Ashleigh Barty, Australia’s home favourite in Melbourne (PA Wire)
Ashleigh Barty, Australia’s home favourite in Melbourne (PA Wire)

Novak Djokovic news

Sunday 9 January 2022 16:27 , Lawrence Ostlere

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has revealed that Novak Djokovic asked to be moved out of his immigration hotel and into rented accommodation.

TennisWorldUSA report the national leader explaining having been in contact with the tennis player and asking what he could do to help - but Australian immigration rules are preventing it happening.

“We did everything we could. Last night I talked to Novak for the first time, this morning for the second time, in accordance with the agreements we have, Ana Brnabic is just calling on the phone, praying and asking for one thing,” Vucic said.

“That before the final decision of the court on Monday, they allow Novak not to be in this infamous hotel, but in the house he rented. That is what Novak asked from his country, it is our obligation to protect our citizens. I talked to him last night and this morning, our ministry is involved.”

Murray speaks out on Djokovic

Sunday 9 January 2022 16:10 , Lawrence Ostlere

Andy Murray speaks out on Novak Djokovic situation that has left players ‘shocked’:

Andy Murray speaks out on Novak Djokovic situation that has left players ‘shocked’

Osaka withdraws from Australian Open

Sunday 9 January 2022 15:31 , Lawrence Ostlere

Naomi Osaka has withdrawn with an injury from her semi-final at the Melbourne Summer Set as she prepares to defend her Australian Open title.

In a statement issued by Tennis Australia Osaka said: “I had a lot of fun playing here in Melbourne. Unfortunately I have an abdominal injury which I need to rest and prepare for the Australian Open.”

Later on Twitter Osaka posted: “Sad to withdraw due to injury from my match today, my body got a shock from playing back to back intense matches after the break I took. I’ll try to rest up and I’ll see you soon!”

The four-time grand slam winner took a break from playing after losing to Leylah Fernandez in the third round of September’s US Open.

Following her winning return to action in Melbourne earlier in the week, Osaka said her main target for 2022 is to feel like she is “having fun” on the court.

Veronika Kudermetova had been due to face the Japanese world number 13 prior to the withdrawal, with the Russian now to take on Simona Halep in the final after the Romanian progressed with a straight-sets win over Chinese teenager Zheng Qinwen.

Novak Djokovic news

Sunday 9 January 2022 15:02 , Lawrence Ostlere

Craig Tiley, the boss of Tennis Australia, has praised his organisation for the work they have done in Novak Djokovic’s case as the tennis star awaits the outcome of his appeal.

There has been criticism aimed everywhere it seems, from toward Djokovic and his team, to the organisers’ earlier claims that he’d be allowed in and even toward the country’s visa process, but a leaked video reported by the Sunday Herald Sun paper in Australia shows Tiley rejected the accusations that Tennis Australia had mislead players over what was necessary to gain entry for the Australian Open.

“There is a lot finger pointing going on... but I can assure you our team has done an unbelievable job,” he said.

Djokovic denied personal chef – reports

Sunday 9 January 2022 14:37 , Lawrence Ostlere

Novak Djokovic’s requests for access to his personal chef and a tennis court have been rejected by Australian authorities, according to reports.

The Australian said officials have remained adamant that the world No 1 will be denied access to any preferential treatment during the course of his stay at the Park Hotel in Melbourne.

Djokovic was also unable to celebrate Orthodox Christmas on Friday, with a priest from the Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church in Melbourne said to have been turned away.

Murray speaks out on Djokovic

Sunday 9 January 2022 14:08 , Lawrence Ostlere

Andy Murray has said the uncertainty over Novak Djokovic’s situation ahead of the Australian Open is “really bad” for tennis and has left players in shock ahead of the tournament.

Full story:

Andy Murray speaks out on Novak Djokovic situation that has left players ‘shocked’

Novak Djokovic news

Sunday 9 January 2022 13:54 , Lawrence Ostlere

Rafael Nadal’s uncle and trainer Toni Nadal has joined the debate over Novak Djokovic, admitting he is surprised that the Serbian is not vaccinated yet after attempting to play the Australian Open.

“I must admit that until Tuesday’s announcement, I thought that the Serbian player would give up participating in the tournament , or that the vaccine would be inoculated,” Toni Nadal says in his El Pais column.

“There are almost six million people who have lost their lives due to this damn virus and many other millions who have received the vaccine.

“I want to think that Novak is no stranger to all this and that he will clear the doubts as a sign of human sensitivity and understanding.”

Novak Djokovic news

Sunday 9 January 2022 13:35 , Lawrence Ostlere

Novak Djokovic’s mother Dijana has called her son’s situation over a rescinded visa “not human”.

“I feel terrible since yesterday that they are keeping him as a prisoner. It’s not fair. It’s not human. I hope that he will win,” said Djokovic’s mother.

She also confirmed that she had spoken with him briefly by telephone from Belgrade. She added: “Terrible, terrible accommodation. It’s just some small immigration hotel, if it’s hotel at all.”

Novak Djokovic news

Sunday 9 January 2022 13:18 , Lawrence Ostlere

Former Yugoslavia Davis Cup coach Radmilo Armenulic said Novak Djokovic had been treated “like a felon” and described the situation as an “extraordinary scandal.”

“They detained him under police presence. He was held in a room for eight hours after he was cleared to take part in the Australian Open by the medical panel,” Armenulic told Reuters.

“This decision, in my opinion, reflects lawlessness and not the rule of law. They have treated Novak like a criminal and a villain to stop him from winning his 21st Grand Slam.”

Novak Djokovic news

Sunday 9 January 2022 12:59 , Lawrence Ostlere

In April 2020 Djokovic said that he was opposed to vaccines. He later clarified that he was “no expert” but that he wanted to explore other options. During a Facebook event he said he “wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine” to travel to tournaments, and that he was “curious about wellbeing and how we can empower our metabolism to be in the best shape to defend against imposters like Covid-19.”

Djokovic has previous when it comes to questionable science. He has claimed before that positivity can cleanse water, saying: “Scientists have proven that molecules in water react to our emotions.” He also wrote in his book that a doctor highlighted weakness in his arm while holding a loaf of bread which was supposedly evidence of a gluten intolerance. His wife Jelena was hit with a misinformation tag on Instagram after posting a 5G conspiracy theory.

Novak Djokovic news

Sunday 9 January 2022 12:38 , Lawrence Ostlere

Novak Djokovic’s father claims the world number one has been made a scapegoat and been “crucified” in the row with Australian authorities over a Covid-19 medical exemption.

The Serbian is awaiting the outcome of an appeal against the decision by the Australian Border Force (ABF) to cancel the reigning Australian Open champion’s entry visa and deport him. With the appeal adjourned until 10am on Monday, Djokovic is being detained at the Park Hotel, a state-run quarantine facility in Melbourne which has also housed asylum seekers.

Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic claims Djokovic was the victim of “political persecution” by the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and others in the country’s government, calling on them to move him from the “horrific hotel” where he is being detained into a private rented house.

Back in Belgrade, Djokovic’s father Srdjan demonstrated outside the National Assembly buildings and addressed a media conference to highlight what the Serbian’s family and his supporters perceived to be an injustice Down Under.

“He met all the required conditions for the entry and participation at the tournament that he would have certainly won, since it’s Novak, the best tennis player and sportsman in the world,” Srdjan Djokovic told a press conference on Thursday. “Jesus was crucified and endured many things, but is still alive among us. Novak is also crucified… He will endure.”

Novak Djokovic news

Sunday 9 January 2022 12:05 , Lawrence Ostlere

Tennis Australia and its chief executive Craig Tiley have remained noticeably reticent since Djokovic was detained by officials on Wednesday.

However, a leaked video has now emerged where Tiley can be seen praising his staff.

“We’ve chosen at this point not to be very public with it and simply because there is a pending lawsuit related to entry into Australia. Once that has run its course, we’ll be able to share more with you,” he appears to say.

“There’s a lot of finger-pointing going on and a lot of blaming going on, but I can assure you our team has done an unbelievable job and have done everything they possibly could according to all the instructions that they have been provided.”

Novak Djokovic with Craig Tiley (AP)
Novak Djokovic with Craig Tiley (AP)

Novak Djokovic news

Sunday 9 January 2022 11:49 , Lawrence Ostlere

Court documents released by Djokovic’s lawyers revealed that the world No 1 was granted a medical exemption as he tested positive for Covid-19 on 16 December.

However, as many have pointed out on social media, the Serbian was pictured at a panel discussion that same day and then attended an award ceremony for children at the Novak Tennis Center on 17 December.

Further to that, the deadline to apply for a medical exemption for the Australian Open was set at “no later than” 10 December.

Novak Djokovic news

Sunday 9 January 2022 11:33 , Lawrence Ostlere

Renata Voracova, who entered Australia successfully under the same exemption as Novak Djokovic, had already competed in a warm-up event in Melbourne before being detained and later deported.

In a statement, the Czech doubles player said she hopes Djokovic will be allowed to defend his title.

Meanwhile on court...

Sunday 9 January 2022 11:33 , Lawrence Ostlere

Rafael Nadal warmed up for the Australian Open by clinching the Melbourne Summer Set title with a straight-sets victory over American qualifier Maxime Cressy.

The 35-year-old Spaniard, playing in his first tournament since August 2021, triumphed 7-6 (6) 6-3 in Sunday’s final.

Nadal’s trip to Australia had been in doubt due to a lingering foot injury and a recent bout of coronavirus.

Rafael Nadal warms up for Australian Open challenge with victory in Melbourne

Novak Djokovic news

Sunday 9 January 2022 11:25 , Lawrence Ostlere

John Isner has become another high-profile player to criticise the way Australian authorities have handled Djokovic’s case.

“What Novak is going through right now is not right,” Isner wrote on Twitter. “There’s no justification for the treatment he’s receiving ... This is such a shame.”

Novak Djokovic news

Sunday 9 January 2022 11:18 , Lawrence Ostlere

Djokovic’s lawyers released documents stating the world No 1’s case ahead of his appeal hearing on Monday.

Full story:

Novak Djokovic given exemption after positive Covid test, lawyers claim

Novak Djokovic news

Sunday 9 January 2022 11:07 , Lawrence Ostlere

The Australian authorities are scrambling to file a legal defence of their decision to bar entry to Novak Djokovic, as he spends his fourth day in immigration detention.

Australia says its health department notified tournament organising body Tennis Australia in November that a recent Covid-19 infection was not necessarily grounds for exemption in the country, as it is elsewhere. Djokovic‘s lawsuit says the Department of Home Affairs wrote to him this month to say he had satisfied the requirements to enter the country.

Home Affairs, due to file its defence on Sunday, requested an extension of the matter’s first hearing from Monday to Wednesday, a court representative told the Reuters news agency. The application was rejected.

Djokovic‘s lawyers will have up to two hours to present their case from 10am on Monday in Melbourne (11pm GMT on Sunday in UK), while the government department gets two hours to present its defence from 3pm, the Federal Circuit and Family Court ruled.

Djokovic’s legal case

Sunday 9 January 2022 10:59 , Lawrence Ostlere

Djokovic’s lawyers added that he was granted an “Australian Travel Declaration” because he was told by the authorities that [he met] the requirements for a quarantine-free arrival into Australia”.

Djokovic’s legal defence

Sunday 9 January 2022 10:57 , Lawrence Ostlere

Djokovic’s lawyers have claimed the Serb was granted a vaccine exemption to enter Australia because he contracted Covid-19 last month.

In court documents published on Saturday, it was stated Djokovic recorded a positive test on December 16, and has “not had a fever or respiratory symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 72 hours”.

Djokovic has been detained at an immigration facility in Melbourne since Thursday morning after his visa was cancelled following scrutiny of the medical exemption he had secured to travel to the first tennis major of the year.

According to his legal team, Djokovic was also provided with a letter from the Chief Medical Officer of Tennis Australia recording he had a medical exemption from Covid vaccination.

It is claimed that the exemption certificate was “provided by an Independent Expert Medical Review panel commissioned by Tennis Australia”, and that “the decision of that panel had been reviewed and endorsed by an independent Medical Exemptions Review Panel of the Victorian State Government”.

Australian government fails to delay Djokovic hearing

Sunday 9 January 2022 10:46 , Lawrence Ostlere

The Australian government has failed in a bid to delay Novak Djokovic’s visa hearing until after the Australian Open draw is finalised.

Judge Anthony Kelly rejected, in an order published on Sunday, the submission by home affairs minister Karen Andrews on Saturday to push Monday’s hearing to Wednesday.

But the judge left the government with the option of making another application to delay on Monday.

Full story:

Australian government fails in bid to delay Novak Djokovic visa hearing

Novak Djokovic news

Sunday 9 January 2022 10:43 , Lawrence Ostlere

Meanwhile Djokovic’s lawyers have asked that their client be moved from the immigration detention hotel, which has been criticised for its poor conditions, to somewhere suitable for Djokovic to train ahead of the Australian Open.

Novak Djokovic news

Sunday 9 January 2022 10:39 , Lawrence Ostlere

Novak Djokovic’s fate will be decided at an appeal hearing on Monday morning in Australia (tonight in the UK) after a bid by the Australian government to have the case delayed to Wednesday was rejected. The government tried to push the hearing back by 48 hours but a court order by judge Andrew Kelly said it had been “refused without prejudice” and that the case would be heard at 10am on Monday.

The case will centre around whether Australia’s government and border force have made errors in their handling of Djokovic’s visa and their decision to revoke it. Djokovic, 34, claims he satisfied the requirements for the visa because he had contracted Covid-19 in December, but the Australian government says that rule of allowing those who have previously had the virus only applies to Australian residents re-entering the country, not visitors. Photos have subsequently emerged showing Djokovic at public events, unmasked, the day after his supposed positive PCR test.

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