A court in Melbourne has postponed a decision on tennis player Novak Djokovic’s visa for next Monday, Australian media reported.
“World No.1 tennis player Novak Djokovic will stay in Melbourne until at least Monday after launching a last-minute bid in the Federal Circuit Court to stop the federal government from deporting him before the Australian Open begins,” The Age daily reported. It added that Djokovic’s lawyers secured an interim injunction that prevents his deportation until at least Monday, when a more substantive hearing is scheduled. Judge Anthony Kelly adjourned the case to be heard from 10am on Monday – one week before the Australian Open starts.
Djokovic was denied entry into Australia upon landing and was detained at Melbourne airport for several hours before being transferred to a hotel for people waiting for a decision on their visas.
Later on Thursday, the Serbs living in Melbourn gathered outside of the hotel for migrants, dancing a traditional national dance ‘kolo’ in support of their sports idol.
A lawyer representing Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said the government did not oppose an injunction against immediate deportation.
Judge Kelly said that he “is open to having Djokovic give evidence” in an online hearing but added that he will not be bound by Tennis Australia’s desire to have the issue resolved by Tuesday so that a replacement for Djokovic can be found if he is not allowed to play.
Earlier, The Age quoted an unnamed Tennis Australia source who claimed Djokovic had been targeted because of his profile, saying other players had already entered Australia with the same exemption he sought. Another source said that it seems that the Australian federal authorities blocked Djokovic to avoid appearing to be giving him preferential treatment. “I don’t know how the feds will [address the fact that] several tennis players are already in the country with the same exemption granted to Novak,” the source said.
Australian media reported that a total of 23 requests for medical exemptions were made all anonymous.