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
20 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
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.

8:46 a.m. ET, January 14, 2022

Australian court is holding "directions hearing" on Djokovic case

From CNN's Hannah Ritchie in Melbourne

The 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.
The 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)

A "directions hearing" on world men’s tennis No.1 Novak Djokovic’s visa cancellation is underway before Judge Anthony Kelly of Australia’s Federal Circuit Court. 

A directions hearing is the first procedural hearing held in immigration cases in Australia. 

Judge Kelly quashed the original decision to revoke Djokovic's visa on January 6, explaining that the 34-year-old Serbian had not been given sufficient notice of his visa cancelation, or enough time by the government to prepare materials.

3:49 a.m. ET, January 14, 2022

Can a previous infection be grounds for a medical exemption?

At the center of the legal back-and-forth between Novak Djokovic and the Australian government is the tennis star's unvaccinated status — and whether his Covid-19 infection in December should be grounds for a medical exemption to the country's entry requirements.

Djokovic's team argues: The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (ATAGI), an advisory group for the federal government, included provisions on past infections in their vaccination guidelines.

Published in December, the guidelines noted that "natural immunity from past infection is recognised as fully-vaccinated in several European countries," and that evidence suggests past infection provides at least six months of protection.

However: The guidelines also clearly say that despite acknowledgement of natural protection, past infection "is not a contraindication to vaccination" — meaning it is not a valid reason for somebody not to get the vaccine.

Immigration law specialist Maria Jockel also pointed to existing government guidelines on vaccination exemptions as a counterpoint to Djokovic's argument.

In Australia, only significant medical reasons count for an exemption — like if someone had anaphylaxis after a previous dose, or they are significantly immunocompromised.

"Previous infection with the same pathogen" is not a valid reason, according to government agency Services Australia.