Judge Overturns Visa Cancellation, Novak Djokovic Can Play The Australian Open… For Now
In a surprise turn of events (to me, at least), Novak Djokovic is a free man. For now.
Last night, in a lengthy hearing Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly overturned Djokovic’s cancelled visa. The judge’s decision was based on procedural error by the Australian Border Force officials during the period after which Djokovic landed.
The Serb wanted to delay anything until 8:30am to allow for lawyers, Tennis Australia and other officials to be consulted. The officials at the airport, agreed, but then cut that short, waking Djokovic up hours earlier and pressuring the world No. 1 to get the cancellation done during their shift.
While there clearly were errors made by officials, I felt that the entire decision rested on Australia’s rules regarding entry, and Djokovic did not meet the requirements — his COVID positive was not a valid exemption — according to some documents (does anyone know the rule anymore?).
But that aside, the judge said Djokovic’s handling at the airport was unreasonable.
However, Djokovic is not out of the woods yet.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has the power to simply revoke Djokovic’s visa again in a final blow. Will he do it? He’s apparently considering it and we know Australia’s PM wants Djokovic gone. And as Judge Kelly noted, such a decision would keep Djokovic out of the country for three years.
So while Djokovic is back free for now, a man named Hawke could have the final say, overturn “the call” and send the 9-time champion back home at any moment.
It would be a petty, personal, purely political move. Does he (and the government) have the guts to do it?
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