MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – An Australian judge on Monday restored tennis player Nova Djokovic’s visa, which was canceled last week because he has not been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly ordered the government to release Djokovic from the Melbourne quarantine hotel within 30 minutes of his decision.
Following the ruling, government attorney Christopher Tran told the judge that the Minister of Immigration, Citizenship, Migration Services and Multicultural Affairs, Alex Hawke, “will consider whether to exercise a personal power of cancellation.”
That means Djokovic could face deportation again and could miss the Australian Open, which starts on January 17.
The Australian government canceled the 34-year-old Djokovic’s visa shortly after the tennis player arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday night to play the Australian Open, because authorities concluded that he did not meet the criteria for exemption from the requirement of All travelers without Australian citizenship have completed their COVID-19 vaccination to enter the country.
Djokovic, who according to court documents has not been vaccinated, alleged that he did not need to offer proof of vaccination because he had proof that he had been infected with coronavirus last month.
Australian medical authorities have determined that a temporary exemption to vaccination can be granted for people infected with COVID-19 in the previous six months.
Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly noted that Djokovic had submitted a medical exemption granted to him by Tennis Australia, which organizes the tournament, and two medical committees.
“The question that worries me a bit is, what else could this man have done?” Kelly asked Djokovic’s attorney, Nick Wood.
Wood agreed with the judge that Djokovic couldn’t have done more.
Djokovic has been held under surveillance in a quarantine hotel in Melbourne since Thursday, when his visa was canceled.
McGuirk reported from Canberra. Associated Press journalists John Pye and Dennis Passa in Brisbane and Tom Moldoveanu in Melbourne contributed to this report.