By John Pye And Rod Mcguirk, The Associated Press on January 14, 2022.
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – Novak Djokovic’s effort to play in the Australian Open despite being unvaccinated for COVID-19 moved to a higher court Saturday as the No. 1-ranked tennis player appealed the second cancellation of his visa.
Djokovic was not seen on the online feed available to the public for the hearing, which began just two days before he is scheduled to play his first match of 2022 at Melbourne Park.
On Friday, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke blocked the 34-year-old Serb’s visa, which was originally revoked when he landed at a Melbourne airport last week. But it was restored Monday by a judge on procedural grounds, because Djokovic did not have a lawyer with him at the airport.
As the latest appeal began Friday night, Djokovic was allowed to remain free, but the plan was for him to effectively return to immigration detention when he met with Australian Border Force officials at 8 a.m. Saturday.
Deportation from Australia can lead to a three-year ban on returning to the country, although that may be waived, depending on the circumstances.
Djokovic has a record nine Australian Open titles, including the past three in a row, part of his overall Grand Slam haul of 20 championships. He is tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer for the most by a man in history.