Australian Court Releases Djokovic from Detention, Returns Visa

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Novak Djokovic has been allowed to stay in Australia by a judge, ending a five-day stalemate between the country’s government and the world’s top man over the COVID-19 vaccine situation.

Judge Anthony Kelly on Monday rejected the Australian government’s decision to revoke Djokovic’s visa and ordered authorities to return his passport and release him from immigration detention.

However, the Australian government said it could still revoke Djokovic’s visa shortly after the judge’s decision.

The 34-year-old arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday to begin preparations for the Australian Open, the first of four Grand Slam tournaments to kick off on 17 January. Djokovic said he received a medical exemption from two medical panels and tournament organizer Tennis Australia from a government regulation that required all visitors to the country to be vaccinated for COVID-19. Openly skeptical of the vaccine, Djokovic said he had recovered from the COVID-19 infection last December.

However, the government denied Djokovic’s exemption and revoked his visa amid public anger in Australia, which is struggling with a spike in coronavirus cases caused by the omycron variant.

The judge’s decision will allow the Serb to play for his 10th Australian Open title and a 21-time Grand Slam victory, breaking records also held by Spain’s Rafael Nadal and Switzerland’s Roger Federer. [uh/ab]

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