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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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.

1:17 a.m. ET, January 10, 2022

Djokovic is with his lawyers at today's hearing, judge confirms

The hearing has resumed, with Judge Anthony Kelly confirming that Novak Djokovich is not at the Park Hotel where he had been held, but with his lawyers at an undisclosed location.

At the start of the hearing, Djokovic's lawyer, Nick Wood, tried to ask for more time -- but was shot down by the judge.

For the last five days, the court has "bent over backwards to accommodate these parties in a variety of ways," Kelly said. "I had made arrangements to secure last night that your client would be with you today. Now, I've assumed that's occurred, am I correct?"

"Yes," Wood answered.

"So Mr. Djokovic is there with you?" Kelly asked again -- to which Wood replied, "Yes, your honor."

Earlier today, the court released an order dated Sunday that said Djokovic would be allowed to leave the hotel for each day's proceedings then be brought back afterward.

12:46 a.m. ET, January 10, 2022

Visa dispute comes as Australia's total Covid caseload approaches 1 million

A general view of the Warringah Aquatic Centre Histopath Pathology COVID-19 drive-through testing clinic on January 10, in Sydney.
A general view of the Warringah Aquatic Centre Histopath Pathology COVID-19 drive-through testing clinic on January 10, in Sydney. (Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

The controversy around Novak Djokovic’s denial of entry runs much deeper than a rejected visa.

His dispute coincides with a steep rise in Australian Covid-19 cases, as case numbers for the entire pandemic rapidly approach 1 million.

On the surface, that may seem to indicate that Djokovic is not much of a health risk to the Australian public. But for many Australians, memories of painful border closures and other pandemic restrictions remain fresh.

For two years, tens of thousands of Australians were unable to return home, after airlines cut flight numbers to comply with government limits on the number of returning citizens.

A ban was placed on anyone leaving the country without a valid exemption, which was hard to obtain, and all new arrivals were taken into hotels run by the government for two weeks’ quarantine.

Not only were international borders shut, but state borders also slammed closed, preventing families from seeing loved ones without a government-approved reason.

Melbourne and Sydney were locked down for months, until finally at the end of last year the government conceded that the outbreak couldn’t be contained and the country would shift from its zero-Covid stance to living with the virus.

The government messaging was that vaccinations were a way out of the pandemic. Australia has one of the world's highest vaccination rates -- 92% of eligible people over the age of 16 are fully vaccinated, according to government statistics.

So, while Djokovic may be in Australia to play tennis, the suggestion that he could come into the country without being vaccinated to compete doesn’t sit well with many Australian people.

And months before a nationwide election, the government appears to have registered the unease and is now acting accordingly.

12:08 a.m. ET, January 10, 2022

Hearing resumes -- then adjourns just minutes later

The hearing resumed, following a 15-minute delay after the original resumption time -- only to be adjourned minutes later.

The injunction on Djokovic's deportation had been set to expire at 4 p.m. local time, but Christopher Tran, the government's barrister, said he consented to extend it until 4:30 p.m. Justice Anthony Kelly agreed to extend it until 8 p.m.

Then Tran requested "an additional period of time" -- and the hearing was abruptly adjourned. It is unclear when it will resume.

12:26 a.m. ET, January 10, 2022

What we know about what happened at the airport

More details have emerged in court and written submissions about the hours between Djokovic’s arrival in Australia late Wednesday night on January 5, and the moment his visa was canceled.

According to court documents, Djokovic arrived at Melbourne Airport in Tullamarine from Spain just before midnight and was taken aside for questioning.

Djokovic’s legal team said at 4:11 a.m. he was purportedly given notice of intention to consider canceling his visa under section 116 of the Migration Act.

A further interview was started at 6:07 a.m., and just over an hour later a decision was made to cancel it, and around 7:42 a.m. Djokovic was told his visa was void. 

During Monday’s hearing Judge Kelly said: When we get to about 4:00 a.m. and travel through to about 6:30 a.m. on the morning of last Thursday, the transcript is replete with statements by Mr. Djokovic saying, 'If you will let me talk to people although you've taken my phone from me, I will try and get you what you want.'"

Djokovic's lawyer, Nick Wood, Senior Counsel, interrupted with "indeed your honor" before expanding on that point. 

"Not only was Mr. Djokovic doing his level best to provide to the officer at Tullamarine everything that he wanted, and did indeed provide material to that officer, but Mr. Djokovic ... did indeed provide that material, that evidence from medical practitioners before he boarded the aircraft,” Wood said.

Later, Commonwealth barrister Christopher Tran referred to reply submissions that suggested Djokovic had felt pressured during the interview.

Tran said: “Can I make it crystal clear that what your honor can't do is find that any officer intended to pressure him."

Judge Kelly said there was evidence of a subjective belief that Djokovic was pressured during the interview, which Tran accepted.

12:43 a.m. ET, January 10, 2022

Outside Park Hotel, some voice support for Djokovic. Others highlight plight of refugees in same hotel

From CNN's Hannah Ritchie in Melbourne

A crowd of media alongside police and protesters at the Park Hotel in Melbourne, Australia on January 10.
A crowd of media alongside police and protesters at the Park Hotel in Melbourne, Australia on January 10. Hannah Ritchie/CNN

As the hearing's lunch break continues, a small crowd is forming outside the Park Hotel where Djokovic has been held since his arrival in Melbourne.

The numbers are much fewer than previous days, though a larger crowd of media is also present.

Some protesters voice support for Djokovic, arguing he has been unfairly targeted and that he should be allowed to compete.

“I’m here today and every day to support Djokovic. He’s done nothing wrong, they’ve locked him up here for political reasons," said Ziggy Misovic, 57, a former driver.

“Tennis Australia let him in and Scott Morrison locked him out. Why? Look at what he’s done for people all over the world, look at his foundation," Misovic added. "It doesn’t matter how long it’s going to take -- free people in the world and the whole of Serbia is behind him."

A number of Serbian-Australian supporters of Novak Djokovic outside the Park Hotel in Melbourne, Australia, on January 10.
A number of Serbian-Australian supporters of Novak Djokovic outside the Park Hotel in Melbourne, Australia, on January 10. Hannah Ritchie/CNN

Another group of three Serbian-Australian supporters said, "We’ve been coming here for Djokovic every day and we’ll continue.”

Others are there to highlight the plight of refugees. A few dozen asylum seekers are also being held in the hotel, which serves as a temporary detention facility. Under Australia's rules, hundreds of asylum seekers were housed at offshore processing centers for years, with some sent to hotels in Australia for health treatment.

But refugees have little hope of immediate freedom, and the conditions they are held in is hugely controversial.

Protesters outside the Park Hotel in Melbourne, Australia on January 10, demonstrating against the government's policy of indefinite detention of refugees and asylum seekers.
Protesters outside the Park Hotel in Melbourne, Australia on January 10, demonstrating against the government's policy of indefinite detention of refugees and asylum seekers. Hannah Ritchie/CNN

“Free the refugees, stop the torture, let them out,” protesters in front of the hotel chanted on Monday.

Shannon Lindsay, 47, said she had known about the government policy for years -- and thought "it was about time I showed up and supported the refugees who have been detained in this country for upwards of nine years."

"I’m sick of the Australian government committing these human rights abuses, with these detention hotels and detention islands. It’s a completely unjust way to treat human beings," she added.