Karen Andrews, Australia’s home affairs minister, filed a request on Saturday asking “that the final hearing be adjourned to Wednesday 12 January 2022” — five days before the tournament is due to start.
No reasons were stated for the adjournment request, but it came just hours after Djokovic’s legal team submitted a 35-page document outlining the player’s defense against the decision to cancel his temporary visa.
As part of that defense, it emerged that Djokovic was granted a medical exemption ahead of the Australian Open as he had recently recovered from Covid-19.
In a letter dated December 7, which was leaked to journalists this week and cannot be independently verified by CNN, it appears Australian Open organizers wrongly informed unvaccinated players they could enter Australia to take part in the tournament.
Court documents published on Saturday confirmed that Djokovic — who has previously voiced opposition to Covid-19 vaccines and vaccine mandates — was unvaccinated when he arrived in Australia on January 5.
His visa hearing is now scheduled to go ahead at 10 a.m. local time (6 p.m. ET) on Monday, with a decision on whether he can remain in Australia and compete in the tournament expected at 4 p.m (12 a.m ET).
If the court upholds his visa cancellation, Djokovic will be deported as soon as appropriate travel arrangements can be made.
According to Craig Tiley, the CEO of Tennis Australia, it was “contradictory information” that led to exemptions being granted to unvaccinated players ahead of the Australian Open.
In an interview with CNN affiliate 9 News on Sunday, Tiley refused to lay blame on any one party. He said Tennis Australia had been in communication with Australia’s Ministry of Home Affairs “every week” and that all parties concerned were operating in a “very challenging environment.”
Tiley added that he would like to see Djokovic play at the Australian Open. The World No. 1 is hoping to win his 10th Australian Open title and 21st grand slam title in Melbourne this month.
Djokovic’s detention in Park Hotel, an Alternative Place of Detention for refugees and asylum seekers, since Thursday has garnered widespread attention; supporters have gathered outside calling for him to be released, while others have highlighted the plight of the approximately 30 refugees also held in the hotel.
“He is free to leave at any time that he chooses to do so, and Border Force will actually facilitate that,” Andrews told ABC on Friday.
In an interview with Serbian national TV station RTV Pink on Saturday, the country’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said Djokovic will receive “gluten-free meals, exercise equipment, and a laptop” while he continues to be detained.
According to court documents published on Saturday, Djokovic has repeatedly requested to be moved to a “more suitable place of detention that would enable him to train” ahead of the Australian Open.
Brnabic said she had spoken with Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Marise Payne, but had been unable to overturn the decision to keep Djokovic at Park Hotel while he awaits the outcome of his legal case.
“He is still at the Park Hotel, but I hope we’ve made his stay a little more bearable with the concessions we got for him,” she said.
Josh Pennington contributed to reporting.
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