Australian Open: Court decision pending with Djokovic scheduled to play on Monday

By Sports Desk January 16, 2022

Novak Djokovic's participation in the 2022 Australian Open hangs in the balance with the judges at Sunday's court hearing considering their decision with no exact timeframe on a final call.

Djokovic, who returned to detention on Saturday as per a pre-agreed court arrangement, is fighting to be able to compete at the Australian Open, which starts on Monday.

A Federal Court of Australia procedural hearing was held on Sunday, where lawyers representing Djokovic and Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke presented their cases after the Serbian's visa was cancelled on Friday.

After several hours with both sides arguing their case, chief Justice James Allsop adjourned and said the court may reconvene "this afternoon or perhaps tomorrow morning".

The Australian Open announced Monday's schedule on Sunday afternoon, with Djokovic's first-round match against Miomir Kecmanovic listed as the second in the night session (from 7pm AEDT) on centre court.

At the Sunday hearing, the Immigration Minister's submissions on why Djokovic's visa was cancelled were detailed, pointing to the argument that his presence in Australia may foster sentiment against coronavirus vaccinations.

Djokovic's lawyers argued against the submission, slamming the Minister as "plainly wrong" for assumptions that he was perceived as an anti-vax figurehead and claiming they misrepresented his views on vaccines based on media reports.

Instead, they argued deporting Djokovic could stir up more anti-vaccination sentiment than letting him stay and insisted the Minister did not have enough evidence to make the counter judgement.

The Minister's lawyers reiterated the view that Djokovic's presence would inflame anti-vaccination sentiment and argued that Hawke had considered the outcomes from both decisions.

Mr Stephen Lloyd, representing the Minister, said: "The minister took the view that his presence in Australia could encourage people to emulate [disregard for the rules]."

Mr Lloyd pointed to recent images of Djokovic posing for photos in Serbia after testing positive to COVID-19 last month, when he added: "The applicant has some recent history of ignoring COVID safety measures. Even when he was infected he undertook an interview and a photoshoot including taking his mask off."

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