Tennis star Djokovic wins court battle to stay in Australia

Novak Djokovic

© APA | Novak Djokovic

# 10 January 2022 16:16 (UTC +04:00)

World tennis number one Novak Djokovic was released from Australian immigration detention on Monday after winning a court challenge to remain in the country, but the government said it was still considering another move to deport him, APA reports citing Reuters.

Judge Anthony Kelly ruled the federal government's decision last week to revoke the Serbian tennis star's visa amid a row over his medical exemption from COVID-19 vaccination requirements was "unreasonable" and ordered his release.

Djokovic, who arrived in Australia last week in pursuit of a record 21st Grand Slam title at the upcoming Australian Open, spent the day at his lawyers' chambers and did not immediately appear in public or make any statement after the ruling.

There were chaotic scenes on Monday evening as supporters who had gathered outside the lawyers' office chanting "Free Novak!" surged around a black Audi with tinted windows leaving the building, while police at one stage used pepper spray as they tried to clear a path. read more

It was unclear if Djokovic was in the vehicle, though police later told reporters outside that he had left. His family were due to hold a news conference in Belgrade later.

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said he was considering using his personal power to again revoke Djokovic's visa.

"The minister is currently considering the matter and the process remains ongoing," the spokesman said.

The controversy has been closely followed around the world, creating diplomatic tensions between Belgrade and Canberra and sparking heated debate over national vaccination rules.

Serbia's parliamentary speaker, Ivica Dacic, said he was concerned Hawke could still deport Djokovic, a move that would bar the 34-year-old from the country for three years.

"The process should have ended when the court ruled on the matter," Dacic, a former foreign minister, told Serbia's Happy TV. "It defies common sense."

Spanish rival Rafa Nadal called the drama surrounding the build-up to the tournament, which starts on Jan. 17, a "circus".

"Whether or not I agree with Djokovic on some things, justice has spoken and has said that he has the right to participate in the Australian Open and I think it is the fairest decision to do so," Nadal told Spanish radio Onda Cero.

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