World number one Tennis player Novak Djokovic has been released from Australian immigration detention on Monday after winning a court challenge to remain in the country for the upcoming Australian Open.
Judge Anthony Kelly ruled the federal government’s decision last week to revoke the tennis star’s visa was “unreasonable” and ordered Djokovic be released.
Lawyers for the federal government, however, indicated the fight may not be over, telling the court Immigration Minister Alex Hawke was reserving the right to exercise his personal power to again revoke Djokovic’s visa.
After confirming that such a step, if taken, would bar 34-year-old Djokovic from the country for three years, Kelly warned the government lawyers that “the stakes have now risen, rather than receded.”
Djokovic’s plight has been closely followed around the world, creating diplomatic tensions between Belgrade and Canberra and sparking heated debate over national vaccination rules.
Kelly also ordered the federal government to pay legal costs for Djokovic, who spent several days in an immigration detention hotel, noting that his lawyers argued his “personal and professional reputation and his economic interests may be directly affected”.
Djokovic, who was present in his lawyers’ chambers for the hearing, did not immediately appear in public or make a statement after the ruling.
The Australian Open starts on January 17.
Judge Anthony Kelly ordered Djokovic be freed within 30 minutes and his passport and other personal documents returned to him.