Melbourne, 15 January 2021 (PA Media/dpa/MIA) — Novak Djokovic is back in detention at the Park hotel ahead of his appeal against the re-cancellation of his visa on Sunday morning at the Federal Court of Australia.
After meeting with his lawyers for several hours, Djokovic was driven to the same immigration hotel where he spent four nights last week for what he will hope will be the final night.
The world number one’s legal team have been preparing his case following the decision of Immigration Minister Alex Hawke on Friday to cancel Djokovic’s visa for a second time on the grounds of “health and good order.”
A brief procedural hearing was held on Saturday morning, where Justice David O’Callaghan confirmed the case has been transferred from the Federal Circuit Court and that the main hearing will take place at 9.30 am on Sunday (2230 GMT Saturday).
Djokovic is due to play his first-round match at the Australian Open against fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic on Monday.
A timetable was agreed on Friday, with Djokovic to be detained at 8 am on Saturday morning for a meeting with immigration officials before meeting with his lawyers, also under detention.
The world number one is appealing against the decision on the grounds that it was both affected by jurisdictional error and irrational, but the threshold for success is much higher than in the first hearing.
It emerged on Friday that Hawke based his finding not on the validity or otherwise of Djokovic’s medical exemption but on the potential for his continued presence in the country to stoke anti-vaccination sentiments and a threat to public order.
Hawke cited Djokovic’s status as a “high profile unvaccinated individual, who has indicated publicly that he is opposed to becoming vaccinated against Covid-19” and said he had “publicly expressed anti-vaccination sentiment.”
Hawke stated his belief that not canceling the visa could encourage Australians not to take the vaccine, increasing pressure on the health service.
“I consider that his ongoing presence in Australia may pose a risk to the good order of the Australian community,” he said.
Hawke gave significant weight to Djokovic’s admission that he attended an interview with L’Equipe last month despite knowing he had tested positive for Covid-19 and argued Australians may follow suit.
“I have also given consideration to the fact that Mr Djokovic has, in the past, shown an apparent disregard for the need to isolate following the receipt of a positive Covid-19 test result,” he said.
Djokovic’s release from detention on Monday resulted in police pepper-spraying his supporters and Hawke cited the possibility of civil unrest, although his lawyers will argue on Sunday that the same could result from his deportation.
Hawke, meanwhile, dismissed Djokovic’s arguments that the cancelation of his visa would either be seen as politically motivated or jeopardize the viability of the country hosting the Australian Open.
There was a minor victory for the Serbian’s legal team with the news the hearing will take place before a full court of three judges, which limits Hawke’s opportunities to appeal should his decision be overturned.
Djokovic had been waiting since a judge overturned the original decision on Monday to find out whether Hawke would use his powers to reimpose the penalty.