Immigration expert baffled by ‘extreme powers’ used to revoke Novak Djokovic’s visa

By Karen Sweeney in Melbourne for Australian Associated Press

Tennis world No.1 Novak Djokovic is still focused on defending his Australian Open title and winning a record-breaking 21st men’s grand slam tournament, but the road to Melbourne is bumpy and the path is not yet clear.

October November – Djokovic applies for a temporary visa to enter Australia and participate in the 2022 Australian Open.

Nov 18 – Granted a temporary activity (subclass 408) visa.

Dec 14 – Attends a basketball game in Belgrade, Serbia, where participants contract COVID-19.

Dec 16 – Djokovic has been ‘tested and diagnosed’ with COVID-19. Documents show that he was tested at 1:05 p.m. and the result was returned at 8:19 p.m.

December 17 – Attends events in Belgrade, including a trophy presentation for junior tennis players. In the photo without wearing a mask and posing side by side indoors with a large group of children.

Dec 18 – Djokovic says he heard about the positive test and canceled several scheduled events. Continues with an interview and photo shoot with the French newspaper L’Equipe, in which he says he feels ‘obliged’ because ‘I didn’t want to let the journalist down’.

Dec 22 – Returns a negative PCR test.

25th of December – Filmed by a fan playing tennis on a street in Belgrade. He is also photographed together with Serbian handball player Petar Djordjic.

Dec 30 – Tennis Australia informs Djokovic that he has been granted a temporary medical exemption allowing him to play the Australian Open despite not being vaccinated against COVID-19. The waiver was granted on the basis of a previous infection, based on the judgment of a panel of medical experts and reviewed by another.

December 31 – Filmed training at a tennis academy in Sotogrande, Spain. The academy posts photos on its Instagram of him posing for photos with fans a day later.

January 1st – Authorizes his agent to complete his Australian travel statement. According to the document, Djokovic had not traveled for 14 days prior to his planned arrival in Australia. Later admits that the form contained an error by failing to confirm his travel between Serbia and Spain. Djokovic said his agent was informed by the Interior Ministry that the report had been reviewed and that he met the requirements for a quarantine-free arrival.

January 2nd – A border travel permit issued by the Victorian Government.

January 4 – Announces on Instagram that he is ‘going to Down Under with exemption’. The post was made shortly before leaving for Melbourne via Dubai. News of his imminent arrival has sparked controversy in Australia.

January 5th – Arrival in Melbourne at 11:30 PM.

6 January – Australian Border Force officials detain Djokovic. After a series of early morning interviews, his visa is canceled at 7:29 AM. His lawyers receive a temporary injunction from the Federal Circuit Court. Djokovic is taken to the Park Hotel, which is being used as an aliens detention center.

January 7 – Spends Orthodox Christmas in his hotel room.

January 10 – After a lengthy hearing, a judge overturns the government’s decision to revoke Djokovic’s visa after lawyers admitted the decision was unreasonable under the circumstances. Judge Anthony Kelly orders Djokovic to be paid his charges and released from immigration detention. Government lawyers note that immigration minister Alex Hawke still has personal authority to revoke Djokovic’s visa.

January 11 – Djokovic posts a photo of himself training at the Rod Laver Arena. “Despite everything that has happened in the past week, I want to stay and try to compete in the Australian Open,” he says. His Australian travel statement is being questioned after documents released by the court reveal that he answered ‘no’ to the question about travel in the 14 days before his arrival.

January 12 – Posts a statement on Instagram to correct ‘constant misinformation’. He admits that he knowingly continues with the L’Equipe interview while positive for Covid-19. He also apologizes for the ‘administrative error’ on the travel declaration. Mr Hawke’s office says it is still considering using his power to revoke Djokovic’s visa.

January 13 – The Australian Open draw has been postponed pending news of Djokovic’s visa. When the draw finally takes place at 4.15 am, he will be drawn against compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic

January 14 – Djokovic’s visa is canceled for the second time, with Immigration Minister Alex Hawke declaring that the decision was made in the interest of public safety


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