Novak Djokovic won his appeal against deportation from Australia, with a judge ordering him to be released from hotel quarantine within 30 minutes.
Border officials previously ruled that the tennis star did not meet the criteria for COVID exemption from entry requirements.
Djokovic had spent four nights in an immigrant detention hotel in Melbourne before the virtual hearing began at around 10 a.m. local time.
The court rejected a decision by airport staff that they did not meet the criteria for exemption from the requirement that all non-Australians be fully vaccinated.
Judge Anthony Kelly noted that Djokovic had provided officials with a medical exemption granted to him by Tennis Australia and two medical panels.
“The point I’m a little agitated about is what more could this man have done?” Mr. Kelly asked Djokovic’s attorney, Nick Wood.
Djokovic’s case sparked a political row after Prime Minister Scott Morrison said “rules are rules” and any incoming passenger is responsible for complying with border regulations.
Mr Morrison was later accused of using the case to improve his popularity ahead of the next election.
Djokovic’s lawyers claimed he should have been allowed entry because he had “recently been infected with COVID in December 2021 and on that basis (…) was entitled to a medical exemption in accordance with Australian government rules and guidelines “.
They filed documents showing Djokovic tested positive for COVID-19 last month and recovered.
They showed the 34-year-old received a letter on December 30 from Tennis Australia’s chief medical officer “recording that he had been granted a” medical exemption from COVID vaccination “on the grounds that he had recently recovered from COVID “.
He said Djokovic’s first positive test took place on December 16 and, on the date of issue, the exemption stated that the player “had not had a fever or respiratory symptoms in the past 72 hours. “.
Photos then emerged of the unmasked world number one with young players the day after his lawyers said he tested positive for the virus.
It is not clear whether Djokovic knew the results of his test at the time.
The day he tested positive – December 16 – he received a stamp from the Serbian Postal Service at the country’s communications museum in Belgrade, an event he tweeted about the next day.
In the following tweet on Jan. 4, he said he had “spent fantastic quality time with loved ones over the holidays” and is now on his way “Down Under on an exemption”.
Australia’s Home Office relied on its claim it had not given Djokovic the assurance of a medical exemption he said he had to enter Australia without a COVID-19 vaccination being accepted.
His case has polarized opinions, especially in Australia where he has won the tournament nine times.
After narrowly missing a Grand Slam on the Four Major Titles calendar in the same year in 2021, he will likely be keen to compete and try to get ahead of Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer as the Most Major titles winner.
The contest starts January 17th.
“Private and pressured sleep”
But the past few days have made things difficult, with his lawyers claiming he was sleep deprived and pressured by Australian authorities to cancel his visa.
He was also forced to stay at the Park Hotel, which also serves as a detention center for immigrants, where for a time he was unable to access the gluten-free meals and exercise equipment he had. request.