Greek Australians were among dozens of fans who gathered on Monday in Melbourne’s CBD to celebrate Novak Djokovic’s court win.
And it wasn’t all just cheering with two officers suffering minor injuries, while a 27-year-old Hampton man was arrested and later released but expected to face charges for assaulting police and “acting in a riotous manner”.
The chaotic scenes kickstarted on Collins street, when fans of the tennis star surrounded a car that was believed to be carrying Djokovic from his lawyer’s offices.
Most were enthusiastic supporters chanting ‘Free Nole!’, but officers struggled to manage the crowd, eventually using pepper spray which Victoria Police said they were forced to do so “due to the aggressive behaviour of the crowd”.
With Monday’s court ruling the cancellation of visa for Djokovic to enter Australia was overturned.
But while Judge Anthony Kelly ordered his release from immigration detention and for his passport to be returned, the Serbian tennis star’s ‘free pass’ to stay in the country could still be revoked.
His fate lies in the hands of Greek Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, who has the authority to deport Djokovic and doing so effectively bar him from entering the country for three years.
“Following today’s Federal Circuit and Family Court determination on a procedural ground, it remains within Immigration Minister Hawke’s discretion to consider cancelling Mr Djokovic’s visa under his personal power of cancellation within section 133C(3) of the Migration Act,” Mr Hawke’s spokesperson said on Monday night.
“The Minister is currently considering the matter and the process remains ongoing.”.
As the Djokovic saga continues, his 7-hour long interview with the Australian Border Force (ABF) upon entering Australia on January 6, has come under the spotlight.
Among key moments included in the full transcript published by the court here, is the Serbian tennis star’s statement to officials confirming he is not vaccinated against COVID-19.
While having made his vaccine-hesitancy stance known in the past, Djokovic had repeatedly avoided to reveal his vaccination status.
The said ABF interview excerpt is as follows:
INTERVIEWER: Now question regarding your vaccination, are you vaccinated —
DJOKOVIC: I am not vaccinated.
INTERVIEWER: — for COVID-19? Not vaccinated?
DJOKOVIC: I am not vaccinated.
INTERVIEWER: Thank you. Have you ever had COVID?
DJOKOVIC: I had COVID twice, I had COVID in June 2020 and I had COVID recently in – I was tested positive – PCR –16th of December 2021.
The lack of a Federal Government green light to the tennis star’s medical exemption from Australia’s double-vaccine entry requirement was at the centre of the interview.
As revealed by the transcript, at around 4am (the interview started around midnight and resumed following a suspension) Djokovic was served “a notice of intention to consider cancellation of [his] visa” and offered 20 minutes, or more time upon request, to provide the ABF reasons of why they should not cancel his visa.
DJOKOVIC: I mean, I am really failing to understand what else do you want me to provide to you. I have provided all the documents that Tennis Australia and Victorian government has asked me to do in the last three/four weeks, this is what we have been doing. My agent and I have been in a constant communication through my agent with Tennis Australia and Victorian state government, the medical panel — They — whatever they asked us to do — this is their set of rules that they have provided so they have allowed to have the medical exemption for the COVID vaccination. I applied, they approved, I just really don’t know what else do you want me to say. What — I just – I have nothing else – I arrived here because of these documents otherwise I wouldn’t have been allowed to come in. I just really don’t understand what is the reason you don’t allow me to enter your country – just I mean, I have been waiting four hours and I still fail to, to understand what’s the main reason – like – lack of what papers? Lack of what information do you need? Or?
Following a number of suspensions, interview proceedings concluded at 7.45 am, with Djokovic told his visa had been cancelled and escorted to the Park hotel immigration detention.