January 10 Djokovic Australia visa hearing news

By Jessie Yeung, Hilary Whiteman, Helen Regan, Amy Woodyatt and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 9:32 PM ET, Mon January 10, 2022
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4:34 a.m. ET, January 10, 2022

Crowds outside offices of Djokovic's lawyers chanting "Free Novak"

Danielle Robertson/CNN
Danielle Robertson/CNN

Crowds have gathered in front of the offices of Djokovic's lawyers in Melbourne, with both protesters and members of the press in attendance.

Many among the crowd are Serbian Australians and supporters of the tennis player, waving Serbian flags and shouting messages of support. Videos from the ground show people playing music with drums and accordions, with chants of "Free Novak" in the background.

'They should let him out, they are dragging it too much," said 15-year-old Tamara Grmusa at the gathering. "We will never stop fighting for him."

Danielle Robertson/CNN
Danielle Robertson/CNN

7:03 a.m. ET, January 10, 2022

Djokovic says in affidavit he knew he had Covid day before being pictured at events unmasked

From CNN's Hannah Ritchie in Melbourne

Djokovic said he knew of his Covid-positive test result on December 16 in a sworn affidavit published by the Federal Circuit Court of Australia Monday.  

“On 16 December 2021, I was tested and diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 (COVID),” Djokovic’s affidavit read.  

Multiple images posted by the Novak Djokovic Foundation's social media accounts show Djokovic, who wasn't wearing a mask, participating in a panel discussion in front of an audience on the same day.

Djokovic and the participants were not wearing masks in the images. 

On December 17, the Belgrade Tennis Association's Facebook page then posted various photos of Djokovic posing with a group of young people at a tennis awards ceremony. 

One photo shows at least 26 mostly young people posing with him. Local Serbian media widely reported that Djokovic participated in the youth awards event.

On the same day, Djokovic later posted a photograph of himself with a plaque on his official Instagram account.

The headline of this post has been updated to reflect that Djokovic knew of his positive test one day before the December 17 event.

3:56 a.m. ET, January 10, 2022

A quick timeline of events

Documents released by the court on Monday after the verdict reveal the timeline that led to this event. According to Djokovic's affidavit:

  • October or November 2021: Djokovic files for an Australian temporary entry visa to compete in the Australian Open.
  • November 18: Djokovic is granted the visa.
  • December 16: Djokovic tests positive for Covid-19. That same day, he is photographed at three events, where none of the other participants are masked. The following day, he is also photographed at a youth awards event.
  • December 22: He tests negative for the virus.
  • December 30: He receives a medical exemption from Covid vaccination for entry from Tennis Australia, on the grounds that he had just recovered from Covid.
  • January 1: Djokovic's team submits his travel declaration to the Australian Ministry of Home Affairs, which notifies them that it has been assessed and he is cleared for quarantine-free arrival.
  • January 2: Djokovic receives a Border Travel Permit by the state government of Victoria, where Melbourne is located and where the tournament will take place.
  • January 4: Djokovic departs from Spain.
  • January 5: He arrives in Melbourne late at night, close to midnight. His passport is taken, and he is escorted to a small room where he is interviewed by border control officers.
  • January 6: His visa is canceled by the Australian government, and he is taken to a temporary detention facility at the Park Hotel in Melbourne.
  • January 10: His hearing commences, with the judge deciding to quash the cancelation of his visa and order his release from detention.
2:55 a.m. ET, January 10, 2022

Park Hotel refugee 'really happy' for Djokovic

One of the refugees detained in the Park Hotel immigration facility where Novak Djokovic was previously held said he was "really happy" for the tennis star, “because he doesn’t deserve detention.”

Adnan Choopani, 24, arrived in Australian waters in 2013 after the government announced that no asylum seeker who entered by boat would ever be allowed to stay.

Choopani was 15 years old when his family urged him to flee Iran.

More than 8 years on, he's still fighting for his freedom.

His case is currently working its way through the Federal Circuit Court, with his lawyers arguing he should be allowed to live in the community until his removal to a third country.

Choopani says the men inside Park Hotel hope the world's top tennis player will advocate for their freedom after his release.

“We hope he's not going to forget that in the first place we are both human,” he said. “We've been a victim of humiliation from Australia, in the same way how they did to him."

2:41 a.m. ET, January 10, 2022

Djokovic's affidavit: "I was upset and confused"

The Australian court has just released a number of court documents related to the case, including Djokovic's affidavit, which described in his words what had happened after his arrival in Melbourne.

It described the tennis player being held at the airport and subjected to numerous interviews, before at one point being handed the government's notice of intention to cancel his visa.

Djokovic said he refused to sign the document at that point, explaining, "My agent and I had done all that was asked of us in making the application for entry into Australia. I believed that I had complied with all the rules about being permitted to enter into Australia. I did not understand what was happening. And I did not understand why he was considering cancelling my visa. I was upset and confused."
2:35 a.m. ET, January 10, 2022

Djokovic's legal win sparks anger from Australian leaders

A number of current and former politicians in Australia have voiced outrage and frustration after the verdict was passed earlier this afternoon, allowing Djokovic to be released from detention and voiding the cancelation of his visa.

"The level of incompetence in the Morrison government is staggering," tweeted Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young. Earlier in the week, she had posted online about the refugees and asylum seekers detained in the same hotel as Djokovic, writing, "They came to Australia to flee war and torture. He came to win a tennis match."

"Morrison just lost his case against Djokovic. Total incompetence! Like on everything else. If they seriously didn’t want him, why on earth did they give him a visa to fly here?" tweeted former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Monday.
2:23 a.m. ET, January 10, 2022

Judge's reasoning: Djokovic wasn't given enough time to respond to the visa cancelation

Fans of Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic react to news of his overturned ruling outside Federal Court ahead of the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia, Monday.
Fans of Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic react to news of his overturned ruling outside Federal Court ahead of the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia, Monday. (Hamish Blair/AP)

To recap, here is what the judge's verdict included:

  1. The government's decision to cancel his visa is quashed -- meaning it has been voided or declared invalid.
  2. The government must pay Djokovic's costs as agreed or assessed.
  3. The government must "take all necessary steps" to immediately release Djokovic from detention, which must happen no more than 30 minutes after the decision was made.
  4. Djokovic's passport and all other personal effects must be returned to him.

His reasoning: After announcing his decision, Judge Anthony Kelly explained that Djokovic had not been given sufficient notice of his visa cancelation, or enough time by the government to prepare materials.

"The applicant (Djokovic) was told at 5:20 a.m. on Thursday, 6th January 2022, that he could have until 8:30 a.m. to provide comment in response to a notice of intention to consider cancelation," said Kelly.
"The applicant's comments were then sought at 6:14 a.m. instead. The delegate's (the Ministry of Home Affairs) decision was made at 7:42 a.m. The applicant was thus denied until 8:30 a.m. to make comments. If the applicant had had until 8:30 a.m, he could have consulted others and made submissions to the delegate about why his visa should not be canceled."
1:35 a.m. ET, January 10, 2022

If Djokovic had been deported, he would have been banned from Australia for 3 years

After the judge handed down his ruling, Christopher Tran, the federal government's barrister, said the government would comply with the decision -- but that the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs would consider "whether to exercise a personal power of cancelation."

In response, Judge Anthony Kelly made clear he wanted to be informed if the legal process was to drag on.

"I have completely dealt with the relief sought in this proceeding and this proceeding is over," he said. "It is going to be extraordinarily difficult for anybody else between now and next Monday, putting it in my terms, to get up to speed (if there is another application)."
"Now if I am to be called on short notice to deal with another interim injunction to address conduct by another minister or threatened conduct including by a delegate, I think a model litigant even in a proceeding which is not yet on foot, this court is fully entitled to be informed."

Kelly also confirmed that if Djokovic had been deported, he would not have been allowed back for the next 3 years.

1:49 a.m. ET, January 10, 2022

BREAKING: Judge rules that Djokovic should be released, overturns government's cancelation of his visa

Novak Djokovic of Serbia in action during the Davis Cup Finals on December 03, 2021, in Madrid, Spain.
Novak Djokovic of Serbia in action during the Davis Cup Finals on December 03, 2021, in Madrid, Spain. (Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

Judge Anthony Kelly has quashed the government's decision to cancel his visa and ordered Djokovic to be released within 30 minutes of the decision.

The respondent -- in this case, the Ministry of Home Affairs -- must pay Djokovic's costs as agreed or assessed, the order added. All his belongings, including his passport, must be returned to him "as soon as reasonably practicable."

The decision was officially made at 5:16 p.m. local time (1:16 a.m. ET), Kelly said.