A Melbourne judge on Monday ordered the immediate release of tennis superstar Novak Djokovic from detention.
Get your dream job in South Africa
After a day-long hearing, Federal Circuit Court judge Anthony Kelly overturned the Australian home affairs minister’s decision to cancel Djokovic’s temporary visa.
But the legal saga could continue, with Australia’s Immigration and Citizenship Minister Alex Hawke considering whether to exercise his personal power to cancel the visa, Christopher Tran, a lawyer for the government, told the court.
The Serbian player, a prominent coronavirus vaccine-skeptic, had been in immigration detention in a hotel since Thursday, when Australian authorities attempted to boot him out of the country due to issues with his visa and COVID vaccination status on arrival in Melbourne for the Australian Open. He left the hotel for an undisclosed location several hours before Monday’s ruling.
Djokovic, the world’s No. 1 ranked men’s singles player, is looking to defend his Australian Open title starting next Monday. He attempted to enter Australia claiming an “exemption” to vaccination, which tournament organizers Tennis Australia said had been approved, citing a previous coronavirus infection, which he claimed he contracted on December 16. The tennis star was pictured attending events maskless in the days after he is said to have tested positive for COVID-19.
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić on Saturday pledged full support for Djokovic, and said her government had been in “positive” talks with Australian counterparts, with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić also roped in to help.
The Australian Open, which the 34-year-old Djokovic has won nine times, starts on Monday, January 17. Djokovic faces losing his No. 1 ranking if he’s prevented from playing in the grand slam and either Russia’s Daniil Medvedev or Germany’s Alexander Zverev wins the tournament.