News

Djokovic debacle exposes loophole for unvaccinated travellers

The Federal Court ruling to quash Novak Djokovic’s visa cancellation has shown a loophole for unvaccinated travellers to enter Australia.

Despite being unvaccinated, the Serbian tennis star has been allowed to enter Australia due to mismanagement by visa officials and previously having COVID.

The federal government argued Djokovic should not be exempt from vaccine requirements for international arrivals, however, both Tennis Australia and the Victorian government granted him a medical exemption due to his recent COVID infection.

Australian Border Force (ABF) officials revoked Djokovic’s visa on arrival last week, and the judge ruled the tennis star was not given a reasonable period to respond.

However, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has cast doubt over the ruling.

According to Sky News, a spokesperson for Minister Hawke on Monday said it was within his “discretion to consider cancelling Mr Djokovic’s visa under his personal power of cancellation within section 133C(3) of the Migration Act.”

“The Minister is currently considering the matter and the process remains ongoing.”

Section 133C(3) states the Minister has the power to cancel a person’s visa if (a) he is “satisfied” a ground for cancelling the visa exists under section 116 and (b) the Minister “is satisfied that it would be in the public interest to cancel the visa.”

In his first comments since being released from immigration detention in Melbourne, Djokovic has expressed his relief at the judge’s decision.

The world No. 1 tennis star took to social media to post a photo of him standing on Rod Laver Arena with his crew after completing a training session.

“I’m pleased and grateful that the Judge overturned my visa cancellation. Despite all that has happened, I want to stay and try to compete (at the) Australian Open,” he wrote.

“I remain focused on that.

“I flew here to play at one of the most important events we have in front of the amazing fans,” Djokovic wrote.

The tennis star’s family spoke to media in Serbia where they thanked fans for the support and praised Judge Anthony Kelly’s verdict.

“The whole process was not about tennis or the Australian Open, it was about justice for what was done to him,” his younger brother, Djordje Djokovic, said in a press conference.

“Novak is only fighting for the liberty of choice,” Djordje said, after personally thanking the Federal Circuit Court judge.

“We are grateful for [the] justice system for Australia.”

Djokovic’s father, Srdjan, said his son had his human rights violated, while his mother, Dijana, said her son was subjected to “torture.”

“This is his biggest win in his career, it is bigger than any grand slam,” she said.

“He has done nothing wrong, he hasn’t broken any of their laws.

“He has been subjected to torture, to harassment.”

Djokovic was released from an immigration facility after the judge ruled in his favour.

The ruling means that the government are responsible for the Serbian athlete’s legal costs.


Featured image: Twitter/DjokerNol



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