An Australian magistrate has freed Novak Djokovic from detention in Australia after the vegan tennis pro attempted to enter the country without being vaccinated for COVID-19.
Djokovic arrived in the country on January 5 for the upcoming Australian Open, If all goes well Novak could secure his 21st grand slam title which is a new record.
Australia requires all people arriving from abroad to be fully vaccinated unless they have a medical exemption.
Djokovic requested a medical exemption since he had recently contracted the virus and tested positive for COVID-19 back on December 16, 2021, however as soon as he landed the Australian Border Police officials canceled the visa, claiming the exemption was not valid.
This was enforced under the mandates of the Migration Act, which “allows for the cancellation of a visa where the holder poses a risk to the health, safety or good order of the Australian community, or to an individual within the Australian community.”
What are the arguments?
Djokovic appealed to the court, where his legal team pointed out that the tennis pro-star “had done absolutely everything that he understood was required for him to enter Australia.”
He received “certification of a medical exemption from vaccination” from the tournament organization, Djokovic’s lawyers said.
Moreover, the Department of Home Affairs handed Djokovic a document stating he met the requirements to be exempt from quarantine.
“He had ticked absolutely every box,” Nick Wood, Senior Counsel representing Djokovic, stated.
On behalf of the Australian Minister for Home Affairs, Karen Andrews, lawyers argued that the previous COVID-19 infection is not a valid medical reason for exemption and that Djokovic was wrong in assuming he was guaranteed entry with the exemption.
In addition, Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed last week that Tennis Australia had been informed back in November that unvaccinated individuals would not be allowed to enter the country. That’s even if the player had recently contracted the virus.
As such, Morrison maintains that Djokovic’s exemption was not valid. “Rules are rules,” Morrison said. “Our government has strong form when it comes to securing our borders.”
This is kind of contradictory since there are a few players already training in Australia with the exemption.
Magistrate of Justice Anthony Kelly concluded that the tennis player had recorded his December infection, and reinstated his visa.
“What more could this man have done?” Kelly said.
Djokovic turned to social media to express his gratitude for the decision.
“I am pleased and grateful that the judge overturned my visa cancellation,” he wrote. “Despite all that has happened in the past week, I want to stay and to try to compete at the Australian Open. I remain focused on that.
“I flew here to play at one of the most important events we have in front of the amazing fans. For now I cannot say more but THANK YOU for standing with me through all this and encouraging me to stay strong.”
The COVID-19 controversy
The outcome is disapproved by the Australian public since the government is giving celebrities like Djokovic special treatment, while thousands of families remain unable to see each other due to travel restrictions.
Further, dozens of refugees are being kept at the same hotel Djovovic had been detained in. Some have been locked up for nearly a decade.
This is not Djokovic’s first run-in with the COVID controversy. When he tested positive, the athlete sat on a panel in front of a live audience unmasked, and the following day, the Belgrade Tennis Association posted multiple photos of Djokovic posing with nearly 30 young people at an awards ceremony.