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Australian judge says tennis star Novak Djokovic can stay, but saga not over

Novak Djokovic visa
Posted at 11:07 PM, Jan 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-10 09:05:19-05

Tennis star Novak Djokovic has won a court battle to stay in Australia to contest the Australian Open despite not being vaccinated against COVID-19, but the drama might not be finished.

Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly on Monday reinstated Djokovic's visa, which was canceled last week because he is unvaccinated. The judge ordered the government to release the world's top-ranked men's player within 30 minutes.

But a government lawyer told the judge that the immigration minister might use his personal power to cancel the visa again. That would mean that Djokovic could again face deportation.

The Australian government canceled Djokovic's visa last week shortly after he arrived in Melbourne for the upcoming Australian Open. Officials said they decided he didn't meet the criteria for an exemption to an entry requirement that all non-citizens be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

Djokovic had been confined to an immigration detention hotel following that ruling.

The judge on Monday noted that Djokovic had provided officials at Melbourne's airport with a medical exemption given him by Tennis Australia. His lawyers say that exemption was granted because Djokovic tested positive for COVID-19 last month and recovered.

Djokovic hopes to defend his title at the Australian Open and win a men's record 21st Grand Slam singles title. He won three of the four Grand Slam titles in 2021 before being upset by Daniil Medvedev in the U.S. Open final.

Djokovic has been outspoken in his opposition to the COVID-19 vaccine and vaccinations in general. According to the BBC, in April 2020, Djokovic told fans that he was "opposed to vaccination." The outlet also reports that he's pushed dubious scientific claims throughout his career.