Djokovic to avoid deportation until Monday

Tiffanie Turnbull, Callum Godde and Karen Sweeney |

Tennis world No.1 Novak Djokovic will remain in visa limbo until at least Monday as he fights to stave off deportation before the Australian Open.

The nine-time champion is challenging the Australian government’s decision to cancel his visa, applying for a judicial review.

He is also seeking to have officials barred from deporting him in the meantime.

But Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly on Thursday evening said there was a delay in receiving the application for a review of the visa decisions and the temporary ban on Djokovic’s deportation. 

As such, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews’ lawyer has agreed the tennis star should not be removed from the country until Monday at least, when his case is due back before the court, unless he decides to leave of his own accord.

Djokovic’s barrister Nick Wood argued the government should be barred from deporting the 20-time grand slam champion until his visa matter is decided in full.

However, the judge shot that suggestion down, saying Djokovic could in theory launch “a cascading series of appeals” to delay his deportation.

The case was adjourned until 10am on Monday, when the court is due to hear the challenge to the decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa.

Tennis pros planning to play at Australian Open were required to be fully vaccinated for both entry into the country and entry into the tournament.

The Serbian superstar claimed he had an exemption against vaccination allowing him to travel to Australia, but it appears he only had the exemption provided by Tennis Australia to participate in the competition.

He arrived in Australia late Wednesday night and after being detained at the airport was transferred to the Park Hotel in Carlton – an alternative place of immigration detention.

Tennis Australia has indicated it needs to know Djokovic’s status before Tuesday so it can find a replacement player, Mr Wood, Djokovic’s barrister, said.

But Judge Kelly said he won’t be hurried: “The tail won’t be wagging the dog here.”

Djokovic could be called to give evidence virtually, in the interest of expediting the case.

“If that means that your client needs to give evidence by (Microsoft) Teams, I will hear him. I doubt that his evidence will be controversial,” he said.

Judge Kelly earlier on Thursday confessed to knowing little about tennis, questioning when Djokovic would be required at the tournament, if allowed to play.

The Australian Open begins on January 17 and Judge Kelly wants to know what resources are available for Djokovic.

“I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the court to ask, as an open question, whether the particular hotel in which the applicant is staying or may be able to stay might have available to him tennis practising facilities,” the judge said.