Novak Djokovic will have his last word on Sunday morning, with a federal court hearing to decide whether to stay or leave.
Having once failed to get the 34-year-old unvaccinated girl out of the country, the Australian government is trying again.
Once again, Djokovic is fighting back, with a new appeal date set to the Federal Court For Sunday, January 16, 9:30AM EDT, with coverage live here.
The Serbian ace has returned to Melbourne’s infamous immigration detention facility after a few short days of freedom following his first successful judicial appeal.
A motorcade was seen traveling from his lawyer’s offices – where he remained under guard most Saturdays – to the former Park Hotel facility.
To millions around the world, the Serbian superstar is best known as the tennis champion who outsmarts everyone with a fierce backhand and anti-vaccine stance.
In court filings, Australia portrayed him as a talisman for anti-vaccination and a catalyst for potential “civil unrest”, which should be removed in the public interest.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has argued that Djokovic’s presence in Australia “may reinforce anti-vaccination sentiment”, justifying his use of broad executive powers to revoke the ace visa.
Hook said Djokovic could not only encourage people to break health rules, but his presence could lead to “civil unrest”.
So just two days before the Australian Open kicks off, the defending champion has once again focused on the law courts rather than the central court.
After months of speculation over whether Djokovic would get the vaccination to play in Australia, he used the medical exemption to enter the country a week ago, hoping to challenge for a record-breaking Grand Slam title at the 21st World Open.
Many Australians – who have suffered from prolonged lockdowns and border restrictions – believe Djokovic played with the system to sidestep the requirement to introduce a vaccine.
Amid popular protests, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government canceled Djokovic’s visa on arrival.
But the government was humiliated when a judge returned Djokovic’s visa and allowed him to stay in the country.
This time around, the government has invoked extraordinary – and difficult to challenge – executive powers to declare it a threat to public health and safety.
Experts say the case has gained prominence beyond the fate of one man who happens to be good at tennis.
“The case is likely to determine how tourists, foreign visitors and even Australian citizens view the country’s immigration policies and ‘equality before the law’ for years to come,” said Sanzwan Jo, a law lecturer at Flinders University.
Djokovic’s lawyers argue that the government “did not cite evidence” to support their allegations.
The minister acknowledged that Djokovic was at ‘little’ risk of infecting Australians, but argued that his previous ‘ignorance’ of Covid-19 regulations could pose a public health risk and encourage people to ignore the rules of the pandemic.
The tennis player contracted Covid-19 in mid-December and, according to his own account, failed to isolate him despite knowing he was infected.
Public records show that he attended a stamp unveiling ceremony, a youth tennis event, and gave a media interview around the time of his test and his recent injury was confirmed.
Djokovic is the number one seed at the Australian Open and has won the tournament nine times. He was training just hours before Hawke’s decision was announced.
The cancellation of the visa effectively meant that Djokovic was banned from obtaining a new Australian visa for three years, except under exceptional circumstances, which led to his exclusion from one of the four Grand Slam tournaments during that time.
He is currently associated with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal with 20 Grand Slam titles each.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Friday accused Australia of “abusing” the country’s biggest star and national hero.
Originally published as Novak Djokovic Court Hearing, Starting Time: Deportation from Australia