Djokovic's Australian Open fate to be determined at Sunday hearing

By Sports Desk January 14, 2022

Novak Djokovic's Australian Open fate will be determined on Sunday although it remains to be decided if it will be in front of a full court or single judge.

Saturday's hearing was procedural with Justice David O'Callaghan transferring the matter to the Federal Court of Australia as agreed by both parties' lawyers for a 9:30am AEDT start.

The hearing was adjourned with the only contention that Djokovic's lawyers are in favour of the case being held before more than one judge, meaning no appeal to the full bench is possible.

Stephen Lloyd, who was appearing on behalf of the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, did not agree, with the court expected to make a decision later on Saturday.

“We say there isn’t a justification for stepping out of the ordinary," Lloyd told the court.

Djokovic's visa was revoked for a second time on Friday despite the 34-year-old winning his initial case on Monday.

The Serbian world number one is fighting the decision, and lawyer Nick Wood, on behalf of Djokovic, contended in a directions hearing on Friday evening that the "underlying new rationale" behind the Australian government's latest move to kick out the Serbian is that it contends his presence "will excite anti-vax sentiment".

Wood said immigration minister Alex Hawke had given no consideration to the impact that deporting Djokovic may have among those opposed to COVID-19 vaccines, saying his client was of "negligible risk", "of good standing" and had a medical contraindication to a vaccine.

In a statement released on Friday, Hawke said the decision had been taken "on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so".

The Australian Open is due to commence on Monday where Djokovic was aiming for his 10th Melbourne slam. Djokovic was also hoping to challenge for a record-breaking 21st major title.

Djokovic is scheduled to face countryman Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round in Melbourne on Monday.

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  • Conflicted Fritz thinks there would be no 'harm' in Djokovic competing at the US Open Conflicted Fritz thinks there would be no 'harm' in Djokovic competing at the US Open

    Taylor Fritz believes there would be no "harm" in Novak Djokovic competing at the US Open, although the American admits he is conflicted about whether he should be allowed.

    Wimbledon champion Djokovic has his route to Flushing Meadows blocked by red tape at present, with the United States refusing to allow unvaccinated foreign visitors to enter the country.

    US tennis authorities have pledged to adhere to government rulings surrounding COVID-19 protocols, despite including Djokovic on their entry list.

    For Djokovic to be allowed into the United States, it appears he would require a change of policy from law-makers, or he would have to be considered suitable for an exemption.

    Among those who would be eligible for such an exemption are "persons whose entry would be in the national interest".

    With 21 grand slam titles, Djokovic sits second on the men's all-time list behind Rafael Nadal, who has 22 victories at the majors. 

    And Fritz, ranked 13th in the world, said that while the situation is complicated, there is part of him that thinks Djokovic should be allowed to take part in the competition that starts in under a fortnight.

    "It's tough," he said. "I think on one side of it, I think it's tough to make certain exceptions to the rules for certain people.

    "I don't know how I feel about that, but then, at the same time, we're not the most COVID-safe country in general with how we are doing things.

    "So it does seem like, what's the harm of letting the best player in the world come play the US Open?

    "But like I said, at the same time, it's conflicting, because I don't know how I feel about making special exceptions just for one person because of who they are.

    "So I see both sides of the argument, to be honest. It's tough to differentiate, obviously. It's good for every player if Novak is not in the draw."

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