Australian government's brutal new threat against Novak Djokovic

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·Sports Editor
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  • Novak Djokovic
    Novak Djokovic
    Serbian tennis player
Novak Djokovic, pictured here being questioned by Border Force officials.
Novak Djokovic could be detained even if he wins his court case against the Australian government. Image: Reuters/Getty

Novak Djokovic has been warned that he could be detained again even if he wins his legal fight to remain in the country on Monday and play the Australian Open.

In submissions to the Federal Circuit Court ahead of Monday's hearing, Australian government lawyers have asked Judge Anthony Kelly to reject the tennis star's challenge to his visa cancellation and order he pay costs.

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But should the World No.1 win and the court order his immediate release, they want the judge to make it clear there's nothing stopping them from detaining him again.

"An order for immediate release does not prevent re-detention if there is power to detain," submissions on behalf of Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said.

“If the Court makes an additional orders for immediate release of the applicant, notwithstanding the above, the respondent submits that the Court should make it expressly clear that that order does not purport to (nor could it) prevent the respondent or any officer of the Commonwealth from exercising any power to detain that might be available to him or her despite the quashing of the delegate’s cancellation decision."

In a 13-page document lodged with the court on Sunday, the government added: “There is no such thing as an assurance of entry by a non-citizen into Australia”.

“As for material given to the applicant by the Department, it had not represented to the applicant that his so-called ‘medical exemption’ would be accepted."

The 20-time grand slam champion has been in immigration detention in Melbourne since Thursday morning after having his visa cancelled by the federal government.

Documents released by the Federal Court on Saturday show Djokovic contracted Covid-19 on December 16 and was free from symptoms before he arrived in Australia.

His lawyers will argue that he met the criteria for a temporary exemption under Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) guidelines and that he was denied procedural fairness during the decision to revoke his visa.

Documents cite the ATAGI advice, including: "COVID-19 vaccination in people who have had PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection can be deferred for a maximum of six months after the acute illness, as a temporary exemption due to acute major medical illness".

Victorian Police officers, pictured here standing guard outside the Park hotel government immigration facility where Novak Djokovic is being held.
Victorian Police officers stand guard outside the Park hotel government immigration facility where Novak Djokovic is being held. (AAP Image/James Ross)

Government says past Covid infection not grounds for entry

Djokovic provided evidence that he was diagnosed with Covid-19 on December 16.

He was questioned by authorities through the night, between his arrival just before midnight Wednesday and the visa cancellation at 7.42am Thursday.

A partial transcript records Djokovic telling authorities he wasn't vaccinated against Covid-19. He has previously declined to confirm his vaccination status.

Government submissions say Djokovic is wrong to challenge the claim that previous infection is grounds for an exemption.

They say the ATAGI advice is clear that past infection is not a contraindication for infection and instead a person can defer vaccination for six months after acute illness.

"There is no suggestion that the applicant had 'acute major medical illness' in December 2021," the documents say.

"All he has said is that he tested positive for COVID-19. That is not the same."

The ATAGI advice also says a person who tests positive can receive a first or second dose of a Covid-19 vaccination once they are asymptomatic.

An outline of his case says Djokovic had received a letter from Tennis Australia's chief medical officer on December 30 recording that he had been provided with a "medical exemption from COVID vaccination" on the ground that he had recently recovered from COVID,.

The parties have agreed oral submissions should not exceed two hours in court.

with AAP

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