Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates his victory over Croatia’s Marina Cilic in the second leg of the Davis Cup semi-final at Madrid Arena on December 3, 2021.
Sanjin Strukich | Pixell | MB Media | Getty Images
Tennis star Novak Djokovic won a lawsuit in Australia after his visa was revoked due to his Covid-19 vaccination status ahead of the Australian Open.
Australian Federal Judge Anthony Kelly read the ruling in an emergency virtual court hearing on Monday. “The court will issue the following ruling: to cancel paragraph 1 of the delegate’s decision to cancel the applicant’s temporary visa of subclass 048 dated January 6, 2022,” he said.
This means that Djokovic’s visa remains valid. He will be released from custody, his passport and other things confiscated during his arrest will be returned to him.
The 34-year-old Serbian citizen and the number one in the world was detained at an immigration center last week after arriving in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open for what officials said violated strict rules for entering the country requiring visitors to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Djokovic, an outspoken skeptic about vaccines, had his visa canceled and his passport confiscated after customs officials decided he did not have sufficient medical grounds to be exempted from the vaccine.
On Monday, Judge Kelly spoke out in Djokovic’s defense, demanding to know what else the athlete could do to meet the requirements for entering Australia. The government on Monday admitted it did not give Djokovic and his team enough time to react after informing him of the cancellation of his visa.
But the saga is not over – Australia’s Minister of Immigration can still personally intervene and revoke his visa regardless of new grounds. If Minister Alex Hawke decides to take these actions, Djokovic could face new litigation and possibly up to a three-year ban on tennis in Australia.
The story sparked controversy over vaccine requirements and highlighted Australia’s stringent Covid measures, which have endured Australians with some of the longest and most stringent quarantines in the world. While the incident infuriated Djokovic fans in the country and around the world, many in Australia were outraged by the idea that a millionaire tennis player could break the laws of his country when no one else could.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison criticized Djokovic, saying that “rules are rules.” But, ironically, Judge Kelly referred to the same statement when explaining his decision on Monday: “We all play by the same rules. The reason why this Minister of the Interior in this process agreed that the delegate’s decision [to cancel the visa] should be postponed for reasons stated in the designation. In other words: these rules were not followed. “