Novak Djokovic is ARRESTED dad claims hours after shock antivax victory in appeal to play in Australian Open

Novak Djokovic is ARRESTED dad claims hours after shock antivax victory in appeal to play in Australian Open

NOVAK Djokovic has been arrested just hours after winning his appeal to play in the Australian Open following a row about jabs, his dad claims.

Srdjan Djokovic, the father of the world's number one, claimed his son was detained following a judge ruling for him to be freed from quarantine.



According to unconfirmed reports, the Djokovic – an anti-vaxxer – was arrested in Melbourne as ministers reportedly mulled using a "personal power" to cancel his visa just hours after it was reinstated.

His dad claimed to Pavlovic Today that his son had been arrested by the Aussie government.

But the situation remains unclear as his brother Djordje Djokovic reportedly told SportKlub that the tennis player is "with his lawyers" as ministers want to "capture and lock him up".

Djokovic's dad is due to hold a press conference and midday.

And other reports in Australian media have cited government sources denying he has been arrested and said he remains with his lawyers.

It comes after a government lawyer warned that Australia may yet use ministerial powers to order his removal from the country, which would result in him being banned for three years.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has a four-hour window to use "personal discretion" to move ahead with another cancellation.

According to the Telegraph, a large police presence has been spotted at the office of Djokovic's lawyers in Melbourne.

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As it stood after the judge's ruling, Djokovic's passport and all personal effects were to be returned to him imminently.

The government must also pay his legal costs, the judge ordered.

The Herald Sun reports Djokovic has now left the Park Hotel – but remains in detention.

He was given special permission to be with his lawyers for the ongoing court hearing.

The 34-year-old had been forced into a hotel which houses asylum seekers after a U-turn by Australian authorities.

His mum Dijana said he was being "kept like a prisoner" in a "small immigration hotel, if it is a hotel at all". She said the site was "dirty" and maggot-infested with "terrible" food.

DJOKOVIC FREED

The Serbian nine-time winner Down Under was given his marching orders following a six-hour stand-off at Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport.

He had initially been granted a vaccine exemption – his lawyers said, because he contracted Covid-19 in December – to compete before his visa was dramatically cancelled.

His legal team claimed he only agreed to the cancellation because he was disorientated by lack of sleep, and left reeling by official's "procedurally unfair" treatment.

The Mail on Sunday reports Djokovic's visa had "effectively" been cancelled while he was still airborne on the the Boeing 777-300ER craft from Dubai, and border officials learned of his case.

Court documents claim Aussie officials made "mischievous and spurious" attempts to rush him into signing off on the cancellation.

He was then detained, despite pleading to be moved to more elaborate digs with a tennis court or to have his private chef provide vegan meals – requests which were denied.

STAR'S PLEAS

But even after today's decision to free him, the ace could face a huge backlash from Australians, who have been split on the decision to detain him.

He has not openly spoken about his jab status, but last year did admit that he was “opposed” to vaccination.

He told reporters: "Personally I am opposed to vaccination.

"I wouldn't want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel."

Judge Anthony Kelly said today he was "agitated" about the case – and asked: "What more could this man have done?"

"Here, a professor and an eminently qualified physician have produced and provided to the applicant a medical exemption," Judge Kelly said.

"Further to that, that medical exemption and the basis on which it was given was separately given by a further independent expert specialist panel established by the Victorian state government and that document was in the hands of the delegate."

Djokovic's lawyer, Nicholas Wood, has argued the notice of intention to cancel his visa was defective because it was made on "a confusing blend of two grounds".

This could allow him to play some of his best tennis

He also argued that Djokovic was treated at the airport as if access to lawyers "couldn't possibly" be of assistance in the matter and was not given a reasonable chance to respond to the notice.

Counsel for the Australian Government Christopher Tran will say Djokovic did respond to the notice.

At a press conference, Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison was asked to respond to claims that Djokovic was given conflicting advice on medical exemptions.

Mr Morrison said: "In relation to the government, our government, the federal government's advice to Tennis Australia, that was set out very clearly in November.

"It could not be more clear."

Former British No 1 Greg Rusedski hailed the "good news" on Good Morning Britain today – and said it could "allow him to play some of his best tennis", even if he's booed.

"He has a lot to prove," he said.

"Yes, the fans might be against him, but a lot of fans will be supporting him as well."

He said Djokovic has "every right to defend his title", adding: "This is great for the event."


Timeline of events

Novak Djokovic touched down in Melbourne about 11.30pm on Wednesday night, and was swiftly taken in for questioning by Border Force officials.

He spoke with officials for six hours before a decision was made to cancel his visa.

That was done on the basis that he couldn't validate his medical exemption to arrive in Australia without a Covid jab.

He was taken to a detention centre in the city.

Immediately after his visa was cancelled, Djokovic and his team indicated they would fight the decision. 

They appeared before the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia on Thursday afternoon, where the matter was postponed until today.

Djokovic was informed by Tennis Australia that he was exempt to travel to Australia and play. It's understood his application was assessed by two bodies – one assigned by TA and the other by the Victorian state government.

On Saturday night, it was revealed via court documents that Djokovic had also received correspondence from the Department of Home Affairs – a federal body – which indicated he was free to travel to Australia.

But this has been revealed to be an arrivals assessment form, and not official confirmation he was granted quarantine-free travel. 

No single party has accepted responsibility for the debacle, and at least one other tennis player has been sent home after they were initially approved with the same exemption.

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