Novak Djokovic visa court case gets underway after virtual hearing was hijacked with porn


Novak Djokovic visa court case gets underway after virtual hearing was hijacked by Serbs displaying porn and playing techno music in protest at his detention

  • The virtual hearing was delayed by about 30 minutes following an IT glitch, and the technical issue has also affected a planned live-stream of the session for the public 
  • An old link to broadcast the hearing over Microsoft Teams was overrun with pornographic pictures and music
  • Djokovic is facing a court hearing in Melbourne with the tennis star appealing against his visa cancellation
  • He was denied entry when he arrived at Melbourne’s airport on Wednesday on the basis he was unvaccinated
  • Novak Djokovic’s parents Dijana and Srdjan joined a protest rally in the Serbian capital of Belgrade 

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Novak Djokovic’s deportation court case in Melbourne is finally underway after the virtual hearing was hijacked by Serbians who displayed porn and played techno music in a protest against the tennis star’s detention.  

An old link to broadcast the hearing over Microsoft Teams was overrun with pornographic pictures and music, as Djokovic awaits a decision on whether he can play at the Australian Open despite being unvaccinated.  

Meanwhile, an alternative livestream set up by staff at the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia crashed when the world’s media and public tried to log in on Monday morning. 

The hearing, which eventually got underway on Monday and is set to last for hours, will see Judge Anthony Kelly decide whether the unvaccinated Serb will be deported from Australia after his visa was cancelled by authorities.

The tennis player has been detained in a notorious Melbourne immigration detention facility since his unsuccessful bid to enter Australia last Wednesday, where he was denied entry on the basis he was unvaccinated and did not have a valid exemption. 

Djokovic has argued that a recent positive Covid-19 test qualified him for the medical exception from the country’s requirement for all visitors to be double vaccinated. 

The Australian government, however, said non-citizens had no right of guaranteed entry to Australia and stressed that even if the Serbian won the court action, it reserved the right to detain him again and remove him from the country. 

Before the court hearing began, Djokovic’s parents Dijana and Srdjan joined hundreds of supporters in the Serbian capital Belgrade, insisting that the world will ‘hear the truth’.  

Dijana (centre) and Srdjan (right) were among members of the Djokovic family protesting in Belgrade

Dijana (centre) and Srdjan (right) were among members of the Djokovic family protesting in Belgrade

Dijana (centre) and Srdjan (right) were among members of the Djokovic family protesting in Belgrade

Dozens of people attended the protest outside the National Assembly in Belgrade on Sunday

Dozens of people attended the protest outside the National Assembly in Belgrade on Sunday

Dozens of people attended the protest outside the National Assembly in Belgrade on Sunday

Protesters demanded Djokovic's release from Australian immigration custody at the demo

Protesters demanded Djokovic's release from Australian immigration custody at the demo

Protesters demanded Djokovic’s release from Australian immigration custody at the demo

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic stands at a booth of the Australian Border Force at the airport in Melbourne, Australia, on January 5

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic stands at a booth of the Australian Border Force at the airport in Melbourne, Australia, on January 5

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic stands at a booth of the Australian Border Force at the airport in Melbourne, Australia, on January 5

The court initially issued a Microsoft Teams link to livestream the hearing, but later updated the advice with a new website to watch proceedings.

Minutes before the case was set to begin, the initial link was overrun by members of the Serbian public and foreign press and at one stage, an unknown person took over control and displayed pornographic pictures for hundreds to see. 

Others were being generally disruptive in the link, making silly noises, shouting and playing techno music as the court official tried to find a way to mute all. 

The new link provided by the federal court staff also crashed due to overwhelming global interest, with the hearing eventually getting underway half-an-hour late at 10.30 am local time (23.30 GMT Sunday). Court officials said they were working to rectify the problem.   

A spokesperson for the Federal Circuit of Australia said: ‘I am now advised the hearing has started. The court is working to rectify the situation.’ 

Djokovic did not tune in for the hearing and remains in the Park Hotel, a five-storey facility that holds about 32 migrants trapped in Australia’s hardline immigration system – some for years on end. 

The Australian Open begins on January 17 — just a week from Djokovic’s court date.

The case has polarised opinion around the world and elicited heartfelt support for the tennis star in his native Serbia.

‘Today is a big day. Today, the whole world will hear the truth,’ Djokovic’s mother Dijana Djokovic told the crowd in Belgrade.

‘We hope that Novak will come out as a free man. We send great love to Novak. We believe in him, but also in the independent judiciary in Melbourne,’ she said.

Djokovic’s father Srdjan Djokovic said ‘this is happening because we are only a small part of the world, but we are proud people’.

The family were joined by hundreds of supporters, including the UK’s former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, in Belgrade, with the ex politician saying he was waiting for the result of the visa hearing with Djokovic’s relatives.

Demonstrators also took to the streets in Melbourne - using Djokovic's incarceration in the deportation hotel to highlight conditions there

Demonstrators also took to the streets in Melbourne - using Djokovic's incarceration in the deportation hotel to highlight conditions there

Demonstrators also took to the streets in Melbourne – using Djokovic’s incarceration in the deportation hotel to highlight conditions there

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic's father Srdjan Djokovic (centre) poses with a fan holding a painting of Novak Djokovic during a rally in front of Serbia's National Assembly, in Belgrade, on Sunday

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic's father Srdjan Djokovic (centre) poses with a fan holding a painting of Novak Djokovic during a rally in front of Serbia's National Assembly, in Belgrade, on Sunday

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic’s father Srdjan Djokovic (centre) poses with a fan holding a painting of Novak Djokovic during a rally in front of Serbia’s National Assembly, in Belgrade, on Sunday

Supporters hold a banner reading "Let's go Nole (Novak)" with a picture of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic, during a rally in front of Serbia's National Assembly, in Belgrade, on Sunday

Supporters hold a banner reading "Let's go Nole (Novak)" with a picture of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic, during a rally in front of Serbia's National Assembly, in Belgrade, on Sunday

Supporters hold a banner reading ‘Let’s go Nole (Novak)’ with a picture of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic, during a rally in front of Serbia’s National Assembly, in Belgrade, on Sunday

NOVAK DJOKOVIC VISA SAGA: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW 

What happened when Djokovic arrived in Australia?

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

He spent about six hours speaking with officials before a decision was made to cancel his visa on the basis that he could not validate his medical exemption to arrive in Australia without a Covid-19 vaccine.

He was swiftly taken to a detention centre in the heart of Melbourne, where he remains. 

Why is Djokovic in court?

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 Monday, 10am.

On Monday, Djokovic’s lawyers will argue to reverse the decision to cancel the visa. The government hope to have the decision supported.

If Djokovic loses his appeal, he could be deported as early as Monday night, but it is likely to be more complex than that.

Who is responsible for the bungle?

Court documents and leaked letters have helped piece together the puzzle of how the messy visa situation occurred.

Since Djokovic was detained, officials have hand balled responsibility between themselves. 

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.

Will Djokovic play in the Australian Open?

Djokovic will likely know if he will be competing in the Australian Open 2022 by 4pm Monday.

Commentators and legal experts are finding it challenging to predict an outcome for the case given it is constantly developing and has happened so quickly.

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He added: ‘They can’t break us. Novak is the personification of freedom, everything human that one man contains in himself. Shame on them!’

Mrs Djokovic said that the conditions in the hotel in Melbourne where Djokovic is staying are ‘not humane’.

‘He doesn’t even have breakfast,’ she said. ‘He has a wall to stare at and he can’t even see a park in front or go out of the room.’

Djokovic’s lawyer, Nick Wood, argued during the court hearing that the Australian government’s visa cancellation notice was ‘defective’ because it has a typo.  

Mr Wood argued a typo in the Notice of Intention to Consider Cancellation rendered the entire document ‘defective’. 

Home Affairs said the typo was an unfortunate but immaterial mistake that should not discount the context of the message. 

During the court hearing, the 34-year-old’s lawyers will also tell the court he should be allowed to remain in Australia because a recent second Covid infection made him exempt from vaccine entry requirements.

Djokovic’s lawyers said he also had the necessary permissions to enter Australia, including an assessment from the Department of Home Affairs that responses on his travel declaration form indicated he met the conditions for quarantine-free arrival.

But the government lawyers rejected that argument, saying the department’s email was not an assurance ‘that his so-called ‘medical exemption’ would be accepted’, and his responses could be questioned and verified on his arrival. 

The government also challenged the claim by Djokovic, a vocal sceptic of vaccines, for a medical exemption on the basis he had contracted COVID-19 in mid-December and had recovered two weeks later.

‘There is no suggestion that the applicant had ‘acute major medical illness’ in December 2021. All he has said is that he tested positive for COVID-19. This is not the same,’ court filing said.

The government will seek to have his appeal dismissed with costs, paving the way for his deportation as soon as Monday evening. 

Australian officials initially said Djokovic would be given an exemption to stringent vaccine rules by state authorities and be able to participate in the Australian Open.

But when he landed, his visa was cancelled by federal border officials.

The exemption request said Djokovic’s first positive test was on December 16 and, on the date of issue, it said the tennis player ‘had not had a fever or respiratory symptoms in the past 72 hours’. 

Yesterday, his lawyers submitted a 35-page dossier, arguing that he met the requirements for a vaccine exemption certificate due the fact he had suffered Covid last month. 

But in a 13-page court filing made public today, Australian government lawyers stated that it was ‘common ground’ between both sides of the legal fight that Djokovic is ‘unvaccinated’, Sky News reports.

  

French newspaper L’Equipe published a photograph of the player taken when he was named the daily’s Champion of Champions in the days after he said in the court filing he had tested positive for coronavirus, Dec. 16. Other photographs published on social media showed him appearing at functions in Serbia on dates soon after that test.

It was not clear if Djokovic knew of his positive test at the time of the events shown in the pictures.

Djokovic, 34, has won the Australian Open nine times and the drama over his refused entry has caused a furore https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/djokovic-case-really-not-good-sport-says-murray-2022-01-09 in sporting circles, sparked tensions between Serbia and Australia and become a flashpoint for opponents of vaccine mandates around the world.

WORLD NO. 1 IS A NON-CITIZEN

The government filing on Sunday stressed that even if the court ruled to free Djokovic from detention and let him play in the Open, under Australian law the government had every right to bar him because he is a non-citizen.

That drew particular ire from Djokovic’s father, who addressed another small protest in front of Serbia’s parliament building in Belgrade on Sunday.

‘Are we animals? What are we? We’re human beings. This is happening because we are just a small part of the world, but we are proud. They have no respect for him.’

Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/australian-open-chief-says-conflicting-changing-advice-led-djokovic-fiasco-2022-01-09 in his first media interview since the furore began that his organisation had spoken with federal and state officials for months to ensure the safe passage of players.

Czech player Renata Voracova https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/tennis-player-voracova-left-australia-after-visa-issues-czech-foreign-ministry-2022-01-08, who was detained in the same detention hotel as Djokovic and had her visa revoked after issues with her vaccine exemption, left the country without challenging her status, the Czech Foreign Ministry said.

 

Lawyers for Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said the country’s vaccination exemption form makes clear that a previous infection ‘is not a contraindication to immunisation’.  

The government stated: ‘There is no suggestion that the applicant had ‘acute major medical illness’ in December 2021. 

‘All he has said is that he tested positive for Covid… That is not the same. Thus the ATAGI Vaccination Advice uses different terms, such as mere ‘past infection’ and also ‘symptomatic infection.”

The document adds that even if hearing is concluded in Djokovic’s favour, it does not mean he could not be re-detained or have his visa cancelled again.

‘If this Court were to make orders in the applicant’s [Djokovic] favour, it would then be for the respondent [Australian government] to administer the Act in accordance with law,’ federal lawyers stated. 

For days, demonstrators and counter-demonstrators have gathered outside the facility. Nobody is allowed in or out except staff.

Hours before the hearing, a pro-refugee banner was unfurled from the roof and police removed a small number of protestors from the scene.

A supporter of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic holds a signed tennis ball and a newspaper front page reading 'King Nole' during a protest of support in Belgrade

A supporter of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic holds a signed tennis ball and a newspaper front page reading 'King Nole' during a protest of support in Belgrade

A supporter of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic holds a signed tennis ball and a newspaper front page reading ‘King Nole’ during a protest of support in Belgrade

Reporters wait outside the Park Hotel on Sunday ahead of Djokovic's court hearing on Monday

Reporters wait outside the Park Hotel on Sunday ahead of Djokovic's court hearing on Monday

Reporters wait outside the Park Hotel on Sunday ahead of Djokovic’s court hearing on Monday 

Social media is swamped with questions over Djokovic’s whereabouts after the alleged positive Covid-19 test amid a surge of the pandemic.

Djokovic attended two public events on December 16 in Belgrade, as well as a December 17 event in the Serbian capital honouring young tennis players.

The event was covered by local media, and parents posted photos on social media showing Djokovic and the children not wearing masks. It is not clear if Djokovic knew the results of his test at the time.

Days later he was shown playing tennis in a park in front of his apartment in Belgrade.

‘Legally, Djokovic doesn’t have to explain what happened (after his positive test) but it would be very good for his reputation here and the whole world,’ Sasa Ozmo, a Serbian sports journalist, told the N1 television.

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