By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 10 January 2022 • 7:47
After a tumultuous few days Novak Djokovic wins his appeal against deportation, authorities having alleged he did not meet the criteria for an exemption to entry requirements.
After having spent four nights locked in an Australian detention centre, Djokovic appeared before court at 10am local time in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.
In a big ruling for the tennis star and the public in general, the court rejected a decision by immigration staff at Melbourne airport when Djokovic arrived last week that he didn’t meet the rules for an exemption to an entry requirement that all non-Australians be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
Djokovic had argued that he should be allowed to enter having recently had Covid-19 and on this basis was entitled to medical exemption in accordance with Australian government rules and guidance. His lawyers had filed court papers that showed Djokovic tested positive for COVID-19 last month and had recovered.
The papers submitted said Djokovic’s first positive test was on 16 December and, on the date of issue, the exemption said the player “had not had a fever or respiratory symptoms in the past 72 hours”.
In their case against Djokovic, the Australian department of Home Affairs relied on its assertion it had not given Djokovic an assurance a medical exemption he said he had to enter Australia without a COVID-19 vaccination would be accepted.
The case has polarised opinions, especially in Australia where he has won the Open nine times, with the general public enduring months of lockdowns and restricted travel in and out of the country.
‘Sleep deprived and pressured’
Lawyers for Djokovic had said the past few days had been difficult, he was sleep deprived and pressured by Australian officials to cancel his visa. He has also been confined at the Park Hotel, which doubles as an immigration detention facility, where he was unable to access the gluten-free meals and exercise equipment he required to prepare for the tournament.
A row had broken out in political circles after the Prime Minister Scott Morrison said “rules are rules” and any incoming passenger was responsible for meeting border regulations. He has been accused of taking advantage of the case to try and improve his chances of re-election in the upcoming vote.
The news that Djokovic wins his appeal will prompt many others in Australia or who wish to travel to the country, to claim similar exemption undermining the country’s efforts to control the spread of the virus.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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