Djokovic appeals against Australian visa cancellation LIVE!

Key points
  • Novak Djokovic’s lawyers are appealing against his visa cancellation at a virtual court hearing in Australia
  • The tennis star claims he should be allowed to enter the country because he has recently been infected with COVID and was entitled to a medical exemption
  • But Australian officials claim Djokovic was not told that his “so-called medical exemption” would allow him to compete in the Australian Open
  • The government has also warned it may block his entry into the country even if he’s successful in this court hearing
  • Live reporting by Connor Sephton

What are Djokovic’s views on vaccines?

Back in April 2020, Djokovic said he was “opposed to vaccination” – adding that he “wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine” in order to participate in tennis tournaments.

According to Our World In Data, 48.3% of Serbia’s population has received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of 1 January 2022.

Nigel Farage in Belgrade

In an unexpected development, Nigel Farage has revealed that he is in Belgrade with Novak Djokovic’s family as they await the result of the visa hearing.

Hotel is ‘not humane’

The hotel where Novak Djokovic is currently staying has also been in the spotlight.

His mother says the conditions in Melbourne’s Park Hotel are “not humane”, adding: “He doesn’t even have breakfast. He has a wall to stare at and he can’t even see a park in front or go out of the room.”

The hotel had hit headlines even before Djokovic’s arrival – and has been used to accommodate people seeking asylum in recent months.

Pro-refugee protesters gathered outside in Melbourne on Monday morning – carrying placards that urged the government to free the refugees and end their detention.

‘We hope Novak will come out a free man’

In the Serbian capital of Belgrade, where Djokovic is from, the tennis star’s parents joined a protest rally on Sunday.

Speaking to the crowd, his mother Dijana said: “Today is a big day. Today, the whole world will hear the truth.

“We hope that Novak will come out as a free man. We send great love to Novak. We believe in him, but also in the independent judiciary in Melbourne.”

His father Srdjan added: “This is happening because we are only a small part of the world, but we are proud people.

“They can’t break us. Novak is the personification of freedom, everything human that one man contains in himself. Shame on them!”

What both sides are arguing

We’ve had some indication of what both sides will be arguing when the virtual hearing under the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia commences.

Novak Djokovic says he should have been allowed to enter the country because he had been infected with COVID in December 2021 – meaning he is entitled to a medical exemption “in accordance with Australian government rules”.

Papers filed with the court say the 34-year-old received a letter from Tennis Australia’s chief medical officer on 30 December “recording that he had been provided with a ‘medical exemption from COVID vaccination’ on the grounds that he had recently recovered from COVID”.

And on New Year’s Day, it is claimed Djokovic obtained a document from Australia’s Department of Home Affairs that said his application had been assessed – and his responses indicated he met the requirements “for a quarantine-free arrival into Australia”.

But Australia’s Department of Home Affairs is relying on its assertion that no assurance of a medical exemption was given.

The government also challenged Djokovic’s claim he was eligible for a medical exemption on the basis he had contracted COVID-19.

Find out more about what both sides are arguing here.

Good evening

We’ll be bringing you live updates throughout the night as Novak Djokovic’s lawyers appeal against the cancellation of his visa.

The hearing starts at 10am local time in Australia – that’s 11pm UK time.

It’s expected to finish hearing evidence at about 5pm local time – 6am UK time.

Stay tuned as the virtual hearing progresses.