The Australian immigration minister must now make the politically charged decision of whether to use his authority to overturn the judge’s decision.
When Australian immigration officials rejected tennis star Novak Djokovic’s medical release of a COVID-19 vaccination requirement and canceled his visa, they caused a storm of consequences – bureaucratic, political and legal.
The world’s leading male tennis player spent four days in an immigration detention hotel in Melbourne among asylum seekers and refugees before Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly. upheld his appeal and ordered that he be released and that his visa be restored.
Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke must now make the politically charged decision of whether to use his authority to overturn the judge’s decision.
But what has happened in the last few days and what does it look like before the tennis tournament?
Where to now?
First, a better class stay. When the judge ruled in his favor on Monday, Djokovic was immediately fired from Melbourne’s Park Hotel to join his team in a luxury apartment for the rest of his Australian stay.
Djokovic is fast approaching the Australian Open venue, Melbourne Park, for a late night training session. He also practiced on Tuesday, indicating that his sights are still fixed on his bid for a 21st Grand Slam singles title.
Hawke is to decide about Djokovic’s fate Wednesday.
Another issue that is under scrutiny is whether Djokovic may have filled in his travel entry form incorrectly when he ticked a box to indicate that he did not travel in the 14 days prior to his arrival in Australia on 6 January. not. In fact, Djokovic did travel to Spain to train during that period.
What did the court say?
Perhaps the key to the whole case and the most difficult question is to answer whether Djokovic has a valid claim on a medical exemption To enter Australia while unvaccinated.
Tennis Australia, the Victoria State Government and the Federal Government have differing views.
Before leaving for Australia, Djokovic was sluggish about his vaccination status. When questioned by border officials at Melbourne Airport early on Thursday morning, he admitted he was not.
His application for a medical exemption from the rule that all non-Australian arrivals must be vaccinated was based on his claim that he tested positive for COVID-19 on 16 December.
Medical panels set up by Tennis Australia and the Victoria Government granted Djokovic a vaccination exemption to play at the Australian Open on that basis. Djokovic’s lawyers argued that he had every reason to believe the same standard applies at the border.
What was the case?
Djokovic was quick to welcome the court’s ruling. During his four days in immigration detention, he only tweeted once to thank his supporters for their support.
Early Tuesday morning, he tweeted again to express gratitude that the court upheld his case.
Questions remain about Djokovic’s recent positive test. He had a PCR test on December 16 and got his positive result that night, but was apparently seen in public for the next few days.
Role of politics
Djokovic arrived in Melbourne because it experienced a record number of COVID-19 cases daily. Numbers have also increased across Australia due to the Omicron variant.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has faced criticism for easing some virus restrictions when Omicron cases began to rise and for not making rapid antigen testing readily available.
Morrison had little say when Tennis Australia and the Victoria government upheld Djokovic’s application for a medical exemption. But when Djokovic’s visa was canceled, he was quick to own the decision and felt public approval.
He tweeted “rules are rules”And repeated it in interviews on the following days. At first it seemed like a certain political victory.
Australia’s strict border controls during most of the pandemic have separated families by preventing Australians living overseas from returning home.
The possibility that one of the world’s most celebrated athletes and prominent vaccine skeptics could receive special treatment at the border was one that Morrison could not tolerate.