The world is watching. Australia is at the centre of a simmering diplomatic incident that’s heading to Federal Circuit and Family Court today. So will Novak Djokovic be allowed to play the Aus Open? Follow live.
Novak Djokovic had hoped to be on court, rather than in court, on arrival in Melbourne.
But as his case to remain in the country and play in the Australian Open, for his chance to become the most successful tennis player of all time heads to the Federal Circuit and Family Court on Monday, there’s plenty of burning questions for the world No.1 and Tennis Australia.
Neither Djokovic nor TA boss Craig Tiley is fronting the public.
But the Djokovic situation is front-page news around the world and Australia is at the centre of a simmering diplomatic incident.
The highly anticipated court case between Djokovic and the Minister for Home Affairs, Karen Andrews, will be conducted by remote access technology from 10am AEDT.
FOLLOW LIVE BELOW: (all times AEDT)
10am LINK HAS CRASHED
It appears we have fallen at the first hurdle here on the tech front. The link to watch the hearing has crashed, so, that’s where we are.
9:52am FED GOVT ARGUMENT
* Djokovic had a valid visa, but quarantine-free entry to Australia required him to be fully vaccinated or have a medical certificate that met the requirements and showed vaccination was contraindicated.
* He failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the requirements to enter Australia.
ATAGI advice on temporary medical exemptions regarding vaccinations is for Australians and not foreign citizens.
* His exemption issued by Tennis Australia/Victorian government was only for him to play in the Open.
* The travel declaration is automatically computer generated and only indicated he may be able to travel quarantine-free.
* A player and official who also used the same Tennis Australia/Victorian exemption to enter the country has been deported.
9:37am THE DJOKOVIC ARGUMENT
* The notice given to Djokovic that the Minister (through Border Force) intended to cancel his visa did not set out valid grounds. This means the decision should be invalid.
* He was denied procedural fairness because he was not provided with enough rest, time and access to a lawyer before the Border Force decision was made.
* Border Force did not properly apply the ATAGI advice a recent infection is reason to not get vaccinated.
* He had correctly made an Australian Travel Declaration and otherwise satisfied all necessary requirements in order to lawfully enter Australia on his visa.
9:17am WHO IS SAYING WHAT IN SERBIA?
Dijana Djokovic (mother): “Novak only has lunch and dinner, no breakfast. He told me that himself. Conditions are not humane, he only has a wall to stare at, can’t even see the park because there aren’t regular windows.”
Siniša Mihajlović, famous football player turned coach: “For me, Djokovic is the victim here, he is not the main responsible for this mess. It’s ridiculous for No 1 to be detained in an immigration centre. I’ve known Djokovic since he was a kid, he would’ve never boarded a plane in Malaga without all the necessary documents. I am personally attached to Malaga, and I can vouch that there isn’t a 1% chance that they would let him board the plane without the needed papers.”
8:52am WHO IS INVOLVED IN THE HEARING?
Djokovic will not be appearing. Here’s the players you’ll be seeing today:
– Judge Anthony Kelly, or Judge Kelly on a second mention
– Lawyers for Djokovic are Nick Wood SC and Paul Holdenson QC.
– Lawyer for Home Affairs minister Karen Andrews is Christopher Tran
8:32AM 4 POSSIBLE OUTCOMES
Under the current orders against Djokovic, a decision will be needed by 4pm AEDT Monday, as that is the deadline he has been given and he can be deported thereafter.
There are four possible outcomes:
– Djokovic wins the case Monday, he can stay and play.
– Djokovic loses the case Monday, he leaves Australia.
– Case drawn out on Monday, he gets special permission to play while the matter is being determined.
– Case drawn out on Monday, he’s given no permission to play, he leaves Australia.
THE QUESTIONS WE NEED ANSWERS TO
Was Djokovic planning to skip the Australian Open until he tested positive to Covid on December 16?
Players have known for months that they had to be double vaccinated to enter Australia unless they gained a medical exemption.
The cut-off for applications was December 10 and court documents have revealed Djokovic tested positive to Covid — the basis for his exemption — on December 16.
The world No.1 had been noncommittal about taking part in the tournament and did not play the ATP Cup with Serbia but revealed in an Instagram post last week he was “heading Down Under with an exemption permission”.
Coming from a player who has consistently refused to disclose his vaccination status but made several public comments about his opposition to mandatory jabs, his social media post was poking the bear and immediately raised red flags.
When was Djokovic advised of his positive Covid result?
This has become a burning question. A filing to the court by Djokovic’s lawyers over the weekend supporting his medical exemption for entry states: “The date of the first positive Covid PCR test was recorded on 16 December 2021.”
But pictures, including some from Djokovic’s own social media accounts, have emerged of the player mingling with members of the public, including children, without a mask as he goes about his business.
He attended a Serbia Post ceremony on December 17 to receive a postage stamp in his honour and took part in an award ceremony at the Novak Tennis Centre in Belgrade where he posed indoors with children not wearing a mask.
Was it simple carelessness or cavalier behaviour? How many other people were put at risk?
If you believe the conspiracy theorists out there, many are casting doubt on whther he had Covid at all.
Why did Djokovic gloat about getting an exemption but not reveal his positive diagnosis, as he did in 2020?
Having been diagnosed with Covid within the past six months was grounds for gaining a medical exemption once the application passed through a two-stage panel process.
Djokovic has long argued he should not be forced to revel his vaccination status. It’s an argument being made by many around the world — most notably those opposed to becoming vaccinated.
But he can’t have it both ways. If Djokovic doesn’t want to have his personal information revealed, why trumpet exemption status on social media.
He may be able to goad opponents on the court but by revealing his exemption status to his almost 10 million Instagram followers, the world no.1 only made sure he drew the attention of the Home Affairs Minister.
When did Tennis Australia receive Djokovic’s exemption request and why did they accept it after the original deadline?
Tennis Australia’s now discredited fact sheet outlining medical exemptions to vaccination, says any application and supporting documentation needs to be received by Tennis Australia “urgently and no later than Friday 10 December 2021” to be reviewed by the independent panel.
Djokovic reportedly tested positive to Covid on December 16, almost a week after the deadline.
But was Tennis Australia so desperate to have the world no.1 compete at an event already without Roger Federer and with the recently Covid-stricken Rafael Nadal compete that he received special consideration?
Why did Tennis Australia ignore the advice in emails and letters from the Federal Government that recent Covid infection would not override the need to be fully vaccinated to enter the country?
Tennis Australia reportedly pleaded with the Department of Home Affairs to review paperwork of players before they boarded planes to Australia.
While this would have avoided what has now become an ugly diplomatic incident headed to court, information provided by the Department of Health makes it clear that “people who contracted Covid-19 within the past six months and seek to enter Australia from overseas, and have not received two doses of a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)-approved, or TGA-recognised vaccine (or one dose of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccination), are not considered fully vaccinated”.
Instead, Tennis Australia emailed the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) an information sheet early last month informing them an exemption could be received after review in a two-step panel process if they could prove they had contracted the virus in the past six months.
This was after opposing advice from the Heath Department. Why?
Originally published as Novak Djokovic court hearing live updates: Will world No 1 be able to play the Australian Open