Djokovic will decide whether or not he joins the Open or he leaves the country
Novak Djokovic, a tennis player, has been scheduled to hold an 11th-hour court hearing on Sunday, which will decide if he can defend his Australian Open title or is unable to leave the country.
The build-up to the tournament, which starts on Monday and has won nine times previously, has been virtually eclipsed by the roller-coaster controversy over Djokovic's visa, his treatment by immigration officials, and the government's handling of the case.
The Federal Court will conduct an appeal for 9:30 a.m. Sunday (2230 GMT Saturday). Three judges will hear the appeal and their decision will be final, according to the court.
Djokovic, who is the men's top-ranked player and is chasing a record 21st Grand Slam win, has returned to the same immigration detention facility he was held last week.
Djokovic has refused to be vaccinated against the coronavirus and had sought to enter the country with a medical exemption from the rules.
On Friday night, immigration Minister Alex Hawke cancelled Djokovic's visa, prompting him to file a legal appeal.
At a time when Australia is in the midst of the country's worst outbreak of the virus, court documents showed Hawke had argued that Djokovic's presence might bolster anti-vaccination sentiment.
"Although I... accept that Mr Djokovic poses a negligible individual risk of transmitting COVID-19 to other people, I nevertheless believe his presence may be a risk to the health of the Australian community," Hawke said in a letter to Djokovic and his legal team.
This argument in Djokovic's affidavit was more detailed than the brief statement Hawke made on Friday, saying his decision was based on "health and good equities."
Djokovic's lawyers said they would argue that deportation would encourage anti-vaccine sentiment and be as much a risk to the public as letting him stay.
'TIRED OF THE SITUATION,' says the subject.
On Saturday afternoon, about a dozen refugees chanted "stop the torture... let them out," as Djokovic and Border Force patrols drove into the underground garage of the Park Hotel, which is being used to hold 33 asylum seekers and travelers in the COVID-19 quarantine.
"Go home, Novak!" shouts a man cycling past the hotel.
According to Djokovic's medical exemption from vaccine requirements to play in the Open, Australia has received widespread criticism, which has experienced some of the world's most severe COVID-19 lockdowns, and where more than 90% of adults are vaccinated, although hospitalization rates remain constant.
As he prepares for an election, the controversy over the tennis player has become a political hotspot for Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
During the pandemic, his government has garnered sympathy from neighbors for its stance on border security, but it is criticized for its handling of Djokovic's visa application.
With the uncertainty arising over the draw and the cloud hanging over their sport, Djokovic's players have become increasingly popular.
Rafa Nadal, who is tied for 20 major titles with Djokovic, told reporters in Melbourne Park, where the event will be held.
According to Australia's Alexander Zverev, the world number three, Djokovic had been treated unfairly, and the Serb might have been used as a political pawn.
"This is obviously not a good thing for everybody, for him particularly, but don't forget his legacy," Zverev said.
Djokovic, who is scheduled to play Miomir Kecmanovi in the first round of the Open, might remain unavoidable and leave Australia by himself rather than apprehensive.