Novak Djokovic being interviewed by Border Force ahead of weekend legal battle

Novak Djokovic is being interviewed by Border Force officials this morning before he is set to front court, then be escorted into immigration detention.

The reigning champion was meeting with Australian Border Force officials at a “secret location” at 8am today to be formally detained and interviewed.

Novak Djokovic having a practice session at the Rod Laver Arena ahead of the Australian Open. (Eddie Jim)

At a late-night hearing before Judge Anthony Kelly of the Federal Circuit and Family Court on Friday, Djokovic’s lawyer Nick Wood SC requested the “secret location” to avoid a “media circus”.

“We have a genuine concern about security and a potential media circus to be frank,” he said.

After the interview, Djokovic has been permitted to join his legal team at their offices – whilst under the supervision of two ABF officers – to spend crucial hours with his legal team building a defence case.

The legal team is set to front the Federal Court by video link at 10.15am, with the hearing having been transferred to Justice David O’Callaghan in the Federal Court.

The bulk of the hearing will occur on Sunday, after a mention on Saturday.

The Australian Government agreed on Friday not to deport Djokovic until any ruling is made.

At Friday’s late-night court hearing, Djokovic’s lawyer Nick Wood SC criticised the timing of Mr Hawke’s decision and said every minute was “extremely precious” for the men’s tennis world No.1, who as the top seed is set to play his first match of the Australian Open on Monday.

“We are where we are because of the time the minister has taken,” Mr Wood said.

“We are moving as fast as we can.”

In a preview of what will be debated in front of Justice O’Callaghan, Mr Wood revealed one of the reasons Djokovic’s visa was cancelled was the concern over the Serb “exciting anti-vax sentiment” if he was allowed to stay in Australia.

Mr Wood described the reasoning as “patently irrational”, saying the decision did not consider whether removing Djokovic from the country would have a similar effect.

“The minister only considers the potential for exciting anti-vax sentiment if he (Djokovic) is present,” he said.

Novak Djokovic fans outside an immigration detention hotel where Serbian Novak Djokovic is confined in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Jan. 10, 2022.
Lawyers revealed one of the reasons Djokovic’s visa was cancelled was the concern over the Serb “exciting anti-vax sentiment” if he was allowed to stay in Australia, describing the reasoning as “patently irrational” (AP)

Mr Hawke said in his decision just before 6pm Friday that he was cancelling Djokovic’s visa “on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so”.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison supported the minister’s decision, saying “Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected”.

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