MELBOURNE – Australia shifted tennis ace Novak Djokovic to detention facility on Saturday, expressing fear that his opposition to vaccination could trigger “civil unrest”.
It is the second bid to oust the unvaccinated 34-year-old from the country as the athlete earlier won the case against cancellation of his visa.
Djokovic will remain in the Melbourne immigration detention facility until the court issued a ruling on the new appeal scheduled to be heard on Sunday.
The case will be heard from 9:30 am (2230GMT) by the full Federal Court of three justices, a format that leaves little room to appeal any decision.
A motorcade was spotted shifting the player from lawyers’ offices to the former Park Hotel facility.
For millions around the world, Djokovic is best known as all-conquering tennis champion with a ferocious backhand and his anti-vaccine stance.
While justifying government’s move to cancel his visa, Immigration minister Alex Hawke argued that the presence of Djokovic in Australia “may foster anti-vaccination sentiment” and cause civil unrest.
The tennis star’s focus has shifted to the law court from the centre court ahead the beginning of the Australian Open.
Last week, Novak Djokovic won his court battle in Australia after his visa revoked for refusing to get inoculated against Covid-19.
Overturning the cancellation of his visa on Covid-19 health grounds, the court issued order ending his detention in a setback to the government.
In an emergency online court hearing, the judge ordered that the decision to revoke Djokovic’s visa “be quashed”.
The judge ordered that the unvaccinated tennis star “be released immediately and forthwith from immigration detention”.
“Such release must occur no later than 30 minutes after the making of this order,” he added.
On January 6, tennis world number one Novak Djokovic filed an appeal against deportation from Australia after the government revoked his visa.
The vaccine-sceptic Serb was stopped by border officials on arrival to Australia late on Wednesday and denied entry into the country.
He was held at an immigration detention facility in Melbourne and faces deportation. Djokovic had flown into the city’s Tullamarine Air-port expecting to defend his Australian Open crown, and to bid for an unprecedented 21st Grand Slam title.
He had claimed on Instagram that he had obtained an exemption to play in the tournament, which begins on January 17, without being vacci-nated.
The 34-year-old has refused to reveal his vac-cine status publicly, but has previously voiced op-position to being jabbed. He contracted Covid at least once.
But instead of a conquering champion’s return, Djokovic never made it past border control.
Conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Djokovic had failed to provide officials with evidence of double vaccination or an adequate medical exemption.
“Rules are rules and there are no special cases,” Morrison said. Australian border officials ques-tioned the sports star overnight and revoked his visa citing a failure to “provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements”.