Novak Djokovic detained as he awaits visa hearing

By Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner, Adrienne Vogt, Jessie Yeung and Adam Renton, CNN

Updated 12:36 a.m. ET, January 15, 2022
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9:49 a.m. ET, January 14, 2022

Djokovic will be detained Saturday ahead of court hearing

From Hannah Ritchie in Melbourne

Novak Djokovic of Serbia rests during a practice session ahead of the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia on 14 January.
Novak Djokovic of Serbia rests during a practice session ahead of the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia on 14 January. (Diego Fedele/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Tennis star Novak Djokovic will be detained again by Australian authorities Saturday before his case to stay in country is heard before the Federal Court. 

The decision was made during an emergency hearing before Judge Anthony Kelly in the Federal Circuit and Family Court on Friday, following Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa for a second time.

The tennis star will be interviewed by the Australian Border Force at 8 a.m. Saturday local time (4 p.m. ET Friday) at an undisclosed location “agreed between the parties” in the case.

At that point, Djokovic will be officially detained by two border force officials and escorted to his lawyers’ office while his case is heard in the Federal court. 

The location where Djokovic will be met by border officials will remain secret in order to keep the tennis star safe and prevent “a media circus.”

“We have a genuine concern about security and a potential media circus,” Djokovic’s barrister Nick Wood told the court when imploring Judge Kelly to allow Djokovic to be handed over to border officials in private. 

Novak Djokovic v Minister for Immigration, as the case file is known, was officially transferred from the Federal Circuit Court to the Federal Court of Australia late Friday night local time.

Justice David O’Callaghan will now oversee the case, with an initial hearing scheduled at 10:15 a.m. Saturday local time (6:15 p.m. ET Friday). 

Wood told the court that the Immigration Minister had used his personal power to cancel the 34-year-old’s visa based on grounds he would “excite anti-vax sentiment” should he remain in Australia, describing it as a “radically different approach” in the government’s argument. 

“The underlying new rationale is not a direct risk to others, it’s that Mr Djokovic being in Australia, in Melbourne in particular, by being here will excite anti-vax sentiment. That’s the point. A radically different approach,” Wood said. 

8:41 a.m. ET, January 14, 2022

Novak Djokovic's opening Australian Open match scheduled for Monday

Serbia's Miomir Kecmanovic gestures during the men's singles quarter-final tennis match between Serbia and Kazakhstan of the Davis Cup tennis tournament at the Madrid arena in Madrid, Spain, on December 1.
Serbia's Miomir Kecmanovic gestures during the men's singles quarter-final tennis match between Serbia and Kazakhstan of the Davis Cup tennis tournament at the Madrid arena in Madrid, Spain, on December 1. (Oscar del Pozo/AFP/Getty Images)

The Australian Open has confirmed that players in the top half of both the men's and women's singles draw will play their opening round matches on Monday.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is in that top half of the draw and is scheduled to play fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic on Monday — depending of course on how the legal arguments pan out over the cancellation of 34-year-old Serbian's visa.

8:38 a.m. ET, January 14, 2022

Novak Djokovic's visa saga divides opinion

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a press conference following a national cabinet meeting, at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, January 13.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a press conference following a national cabinet meeting, at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, January 13. (Lukas Coch/AAP Image/Reuters)

The decision to revoke Novak Djokovic's visa for a second time has been prompted plenty of reaction.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the decision by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke serves to protect Australia during the pandemic.

While many have either blamed Djokovic or the Australian Government during the case, tennis analyst Darren Cahill, who has coached some of the world's leading players -- past and present -- says "fault lies everywhere here."

"It's been a mess," he tweeted. "Novak, TA [Tennis Australia], Vic Gov [Victoria Government], Federal Gov."

Kevin Rudd, the former Prime Minister of Australia, called the decision to once again revoke Djokovic's visa as "one big political distraction from empty shelves & the national shortage of boosters & RATs [Rapid Antigen Tests]."

Former Serbian tennis player Janko Tipsarevic, who reached a career high of No. 8 in the world, has been left decidedly unimpressed by what has transpired.

"Toxic shame on each and everyone involved in this process," he tweeted.

8:41 a.m. ET, January 14, 2022

Australian officials will seek to detain Djokovic on Saturday

From Hannah Ritchie in Melbourne

A general view of the Park Hotel in Carlton on January 06 in Melbourne, Australia.
A general view of the Park Hotel in Carlton on January 06 in Melbourne, Australia. (Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Australia’s immigration officials will seek to interview Novak Djokovic at 8 a.m. local time on Saturday (Friday 4 p.m. ET) and detain him shortly after.

The world men’s tennis No.1 has been asked to “present himself” for an interview with authorities, though his lawyers are currently contesting that request in open court.

Djokovic’s barrister Nick Wood told the court that the 34-year-old tennis player has not been taken into immigration detention yet and remains at a “residential address.”

8:41 a.m. ET, January 14, 2022

Novak Djokovic’s lawyers call decision to cancel visa a second time “patently irrational”

From Hannah Ritchie in Melbourne

Owen Dixon Commonwealth Law Courts building, where the hearing of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic is held at the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, is seen in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, January 14.
Owen Dixon Commonwealth Law Courts building, where the hearing of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic is held at the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, is seen in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, January 14. (Mark Baker/AP)

The decision to cancel Novak Djokovic’s visa a second time is “patently irrational,” his barrister Nick Wood argued in an emergency court hearing Friday.

“Has your Honor had time to read the reasons of the minister?” Wood asked Judge Anthony Kelly in court Friday.

Wood went on to claim Immigration Minister Alex Hawke had canceled Djokovic’s visa on grounds that his presence in the country could “excite anti-vaccination sentiment.”

He described the reasoning as “patently irrational,” calling it a “radically new approach” by the federal government to eject the tennis star from the country.

5:46 a.m. ET, January 14, 2022

Judge suggests Djokovic case could be heard in a higher court 

From Hannah Ritchie in Melbourne

World men’s No.1 Novak Djokovic could have his visa cancellation case transferred to Australia’s Federal Court, Judge Anthony Kelly, the presiding judge in his case, announced Friday. 

Djokovic’s hearing on Monday was heard in Australia’s Federal Circuit and Family Court. Judge Kelly has requested a transfer to the Federal Court of Australia, due to the case's importance. 

The issue is still being debated in open court. The suggested hearing would be Saturday, January 15. 

5:55 a.m. ET, January 14, 2022

Djokovic situation ‘not good for anyone,' says British tennis star Andy Murray

From Aleks Klosok in London

Andy Murray of Great Britain pumps his fist after winning his semifinal match at the Sydney Classic on Friday.
Andy Murray of Great Britain pumps his fist after winning his semifinal match at the Sydney Classic on Friday. (Steven Markham/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images)

British tennis star Andy Murray said the ongoing Novak Djokovic visa situation was unfortunate for all parties involved.

“It’s not a good situation. I’m not going to start kicking Novak whilst he’s down,” Murray told reporters at the Sydney Tennis Classic tournament on Friday.

Murray was speaking after learning of Australia’s Minister for Immigration Alex Hawke’s decision to cancel Djokovic's visa.

“It’s unfortunate that it’s ended up in this sort of situation," added Murray.

“Yeah, just want it obviously to get resolved. I think it would be good for everyone if that was the case. It just seems like it’s dragged on for quite a long time now.

“Not great for the tennis, not great for the Australian Open, not great for Novak,” added Murray, who is a three-time grand slam champion.

On Friday, Murray reached his first ATP Tour final since 2019 after beating American fourth seed Reilly Opelka at the Sydney Tennis Classic.

5:36 a.m. ET, January 14, 2022

Djokovic not currently in Australian detention, according to lawyers

From Hannah Ritchie in Melbourne

Novak Djokovic has not yet been taken back into detention by the Australian Border Force, the barrister acting on his behalf, Nick Wood, said in court Friday. 

Djokovic's lawyers are calling for the world tennis No.1 to not be re-detained by Australian authorities Friday evening (local). 

They have requested that he remain at his private residence this evening and that he be granted permission to meet with his legal team on Saturday. 

 

5:20 a.m. ET, January 14, 2022

The legal options open to Djokovic after visa revoked

From CNN's Hannah Ritchie in Melbourne

CNN has spoken to Australia's former Deputy Immigration Minister Abul Rizvi to obtain the following guidance on the options that are open to Djokovic now that Australia’s Minister for Immigration, Alex Hawke, has canceled his visa. 

The Minister exercised his powers under section 133(C) of the Migration Act, which grants him authority to cancel visas under the grounds laid out in section 116 of the Migration Act. 

Djokovic and his legal team will now receive a ‘notice of the cancellation decision’ which will contain the relevant information concerning the grounds for his visa cancellation. 

Upon receiving this notice, Djokovic should be taken into detention as set out in section 189 of Australia’s Migration Act, which states that “If an officer knows or reasonably suspects that a person in the migration zone (other than an excised offshore place) is an unlawful non-citizen, the officer must detain the person.” 

Should that happen, in order to be released from detention, Djokovic’s lawyers will need to seek an interim order for the 34-year-old to be granted a bridging visa from the courts, with work rights so he can play in the Australian Open. 

For a period of 28 days, Djokovic’s legal team can now also make further representations to the minister himself to revoke the cancellation. 

Djokovic’s legal team can pursue both courses of action in conjunction, they are not exclusive. As his team has already made representation to the minister in this case though, it is unlikely they will go down that route again.  

The top priority now for Djokovic's legal team will be to seek an interim order from the courts to get the 34-year-old out of detention (if and when that happens), so that he can play in the Australian Open.