Djokovic to learn of visa fate as Australia loses bid to delay tennis star's appeal

9 January 2022, 09:03 | Updated: 9 January 2022, 09:56

A judge will make a decision in Australia on Sunday night - UK time - over an appeal made by Novak Djokovic against the country's border force officers.
A judge will make a decision in Australia on Sunday night - UK time - over an appeal made by Novak Djokovic against the country's border force officers. Picture: Twitter @DjokerNole / Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

A bid by the Australian government to delay Novak Djokovic's appeal against deportation has been rejected by a judge following a row over his vaccination status.

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The government had requested the world number one's court hearing be postponed until Wednesday, but it will instead begin as scheduled on Monday morning (Australian time).

Since his visa was revoked in the early hours of Thursday morning and he was ordered to leave Australia, Djokovic has been detained in the Park hotel – an immigration detention hotel in Melbourne – as he awaits his appeal hearing.

His lawyers claim contracting the virus gave him an exemption to enter the country.

Read more: Djokovic: Anti-vaxx tennis star's Covid infection made him vaccine exempt, lawyers say

They also say he was sleep-deprived and pressured by Australian officials to cancel his visa after being detained at Melbourne airport.

The 34-year-old Serbian professional is due to compete in the Australian Open, where he hopes to defend his title, with the tournament set to kick off on January 17.

Now the tennis pro faces fresh controversy after pictures emerged on social media of his appearances at public events after a positive Covid test was recorded in mid-December.

According to court documents released on Saturday ahead of the hearing, Djokovic’s Covid-19 infection was recorded by the Institute of Public Health of Serbia on 16 December, which provided the basis for the medical exemption he received from the Tennis Australia and Victorian state government medical panels.

He was granted his exemption on 30 December.

Read more: Anti-vaxx tennis star Novak Djokovic breaks silence amid Covid visa row

However, pictures on social media of Djokovic attending indoor events without a mask shortly after his Covid-19 test was recorded raise questions about Djokovic’s infection.

On 16 December the tennis pro attended an event commemorating his own personal stamp, sharing the news on his Twitter page.

Pictures were also posted of Djokovic a day later at the Tennis Association of Belgrade for an award ceremony.

The world number one has spoken against vaccine mandates but has always refused to say what his own vaccination status is.

He has thanked fans for their continued support from his quarantine hotel, as his fight against his via being cancelled continues.

Read more: Kate at 40: Duchess of Cambridge shares striking portraits as she marks milestone birthday

In an Instagram story, he said: "Thank you to people around the world for your continuous support. I can feel it and it is greatly appreciated."

His father has compared the embattled tennis star to slave revolt leader Spartacus, telling reporters: "Tonight they can throw him in a dungeon, tomorrow they can put him in chains.

"The truth is he is like water and water paves its own path.

"Novak is the Spartacus of the new world which won't tolerate injustice, colonialism and hypocrisy."

Read more: Liz Truss warns EU she is willing to trigger Article 16 ahead of face-to-face talks

His supporters have been protesting outside the hotel where he's being held, with Australia home affairs minister Karen Andrews denying he's "being held captive".

The Age reports the tennis star has also asked for his personal chef to be able to cook meals for him at the quarantine hotel - but his request was rejected. The hotel’s usual chef is instead cooking meals that cater to the tennis player’s dietary requirements.

It has also been reported that Djokovic had asked to be transferred to a rented apartment with a tennis court so he could train and remain in top shape ahead of the Australian Open.

Australian Border Force have reportedly rejected all of his requests and insisted he will remain at the hotel until a court rules on his deportation.

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