Australian judge overturns tennis star Novak Djokovic’s visa cancellation

Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates winning against Marin Cilic of Croatia in match 2 of the Davis Cup Semi Final at Madrid Arena on December 3, 2021.

Sanjin Strukic | Pixsell | MB Media | Getty Images

Tennis star Novak Djokovic has won his court battle in Australia after his visa was canceled due to his Covid-19 vaccination status ahead of the Australian Open.

The 34-year-old Serbian national and world number one was detained in an immigration facility last week after arriving in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open for what officials said violated the country’s strict entry rules that require visitors be vaccinated against Covid-19. Djokovic, a vocal vaccine skeptic, had his visa revoked and passport confiscated after customs officials decided he did not have sufficient medical justification for a vaccine exemption.

In an emergency virtual court hearing Monday, federal Judge Anthony Kelly spoke in Djokovic’s defense, demanding to know what more the athlete could have done to meet Australia’s entry requirements. The government on Monday acknowledged that it did not give Djokovic and his team sufficient time to react after informing him of his visa cancellation.

But the saga is not over — Australia’s immigration minister can still personally step in and cancel his visa regardless on new grounds. If the minister, Alex Hawke, decides to take that action, Djokovic could be facing a renewed court fight and potentially up to a three-year ban on playing tennis in Australia.

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