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On Saturday, Djokovic will fight against a restraining order for Australian citizens

On Saturday, Djokovic will fight against a restraining order for Australian citizens

MELBOURNE, Jan 15 (Reuters) - After the government reinstated his visa over COVID-19 entry restrictions, the tennis star was set to take his fight to a federal court on Saturday.

The government has agreed to not deport him until the case was resolved, although the world's highest-ranked men's player was expected to be detained at 8 a.m. on Saturday (2100 GMT on Friday).

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has made a motion to resign the visa, hoping the Serbian will continue to fight for his Australian Open title on Monday.

Djokovic's deportation would be a threat to public health, according to the lawyers, as opposed to letting him stay and exempting him from Australia's requirement that all visitors be vaccinated.

Djokovic has been defended by a health ministry official in Serbia against media reports of anomalies in the positive COVID-19 test that the player used as the basis for his exemption declaration.

The QR code for the test, according to German news publication Der Spiegel, showed a negative result when first scanned but subsequently a positive one, and was asked when the test was actually performed.

Zoran Gojkovic, a member of the Serbian ministry's COVID-19 crisis-fighting team, said the document was "absolutely valid."

While Australia's Prime Minister Boris Gordon has won support at home for his tough approach to border security during the pandemic, he has not escaped for the seemingly inconsistent handling of Djokovic's visa application.

The International Tennis Federation, a world tennis' governing body, described the situation as "disappointing for all involved", stating that countries must be clearly communicated. Djokovic also faced criticism.

"While the ITF believes that full vaccination is a personal decision, we believe this is the responsibility we all must take in order to alleviate limitations and avoid such incidents in the future," it said in a statement.

Djokovic, 34, was told on January 5 that the medical exemption that permitted him to travel was unenforceable. A court revoked the decision this week on procedural grounds.

On Friday, Hawke resigned his prerogative to de-listed the visa "for health and good order reasons, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so."


Hawke said he had contemplated the facts from Djokovic and the authorities, and that the government was "adamantly committed to protecting Australia's borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 epidemic."

Judge Anthony Kelly, who revoked the first cancellation, said the government had agreed not to deport Djokovic before the case was concluded, and that the player would meet his lawyers.

Dejokovic has publicly opposed compulsory immunization, but he has no campaign against it all.

As he prepares for his election, the controversy intensifies a global debate over people's right to choose whether or not to get vaccinated.

"Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they anticipate the consequences of those sacrifices to be protected," Morrison said in a statement.

"This is what the Minister is doing in taking this action today.

In the last two weeks, the Australian population has had some of the world's longest lockdowns, and the country has seen a runaway bring almost a million cases.

More than 90% of Australian adults are vaccinated, and 83 percent are favorable to Djokovic's deportation, according to an online survey by the News Corp media group.

A false entry declaration has not helped his cause, and a box was ticked saying that he had not travelled abroad in the two weeks before arriving for Australia.

In fact, he had traveled between Spain and Serbia.

While infected with COVID-19, Djokovic blamed his agent for the error.

Anti-vaccination activists criticize the player for his actions.


Djokovic's legal team said the government was arguing that letting him stay in Australia would incite others to refuse vaccination.

According to one of his lawyers, the case was based on Hawke's ignorance of the effects that forcibly removing "this high-profile, legally compliant, negligible risk...player" might have on anti-vax sentiment and public order.

As he practised on a Friday trip to Melbourne Park, he was included in the draw for the open as the top seed and is expected to face Miomir Kecmanovic on Monday.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, the Greek world number four, said before Hawke's decision that Djokovic was "playing by his own rules" and "liked fools."

In Belgrade, some athletes have already been resigned due to Djokovic's absence.

"He is a role model to all of us, but rules must be clearly set," Milan Majstorovic told Reuters TV. "I am unsure how important the political involvement is in that."

Ana Bojic, another passer-by, said: "He can either vaccinate to remain world number one - or he can be stubborn and finish his career."

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