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World: Djokovic detention draws focus to Australia's asylum-seekers

Australia cancels Novak Djokovic's visa over COVID vaccine policy

  Australia cancels Novak Djokovic's visa over COVID vaccine policy Djokovic had been stuck in an airport due to issues related to his COVID vaccine exemption for the Australian Open."Non-citizens who do not hold a valid visa on entry or who have had their visa cancelled will be detained and removed from Australia," the border force said.

SYDNEY (AP) — Novak Djokovic spent a fourth day on Sunday among the unwilling occupants of Melbourne's Park Hotel.

Protesters hold banners outside the Park Hotel calling for the release of refugees being detained inside in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. The world’s No. 1-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic is also being held there after border officials canceled his visa last week over a vaccine requirement. (AP Photo/Hamish Blair) © Provided by Associated Press Protesters hold banners outside the Park Hotel calling for the release of refugees being detained inside in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. The world’s No. 1-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic is also being held there after border officials canceled his visa last week over a vaccine requirement. (AP Photo/Hamish Blair)

The tennis superstar is awaiting court proceedings on Monday that will determine whether he can defend his Australian Open title or whether he will be deported — and the world has shown keen interest in his temporary accommodation.

Vax-Mandate Protesters Gather in Australia to Back Detained Tennis Superstar Novak Djokovic

  Vax-Mandate Protesters Gather in Australia to Back Detained Tennis Superstar Novak Djokovic The protesters numbered about a dozen, and reportedly had an audience only of the police and a reporter.The group stationed itself outside of the facility, which is actually a quarantine hotel in Melbourne in which Djokovic, 34, must remain until his deportation. The protesters reportedly numbered only about one dozen people, and the only reported audience were a few reporters and some police officers standing outside the hotel.

His fellow residents in the immigration detention hotel include refugees and asylum-seekers who are challenging their own proceedings that have all lasted much longer than Djokovic's. So long in some cases they feel forgotten.

Djokovic's mere presence at the hotel, a squat and unattractive building on the leafy fringe of the city's downtown, has drawn the world's eyes to those other residents and their ongoing struggles with the Australian immigration system.

Refugee activists have been quick to capitalize on the media attention as one of the world’s most feted athletes shares the hotel and its sparse amenities with some of the world's most vulnerable and dispossessed people.

Protesters gather outside the Park Hotel in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. The world’s No. 1-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic is also being held there after border officials canceled his visa last week over a vaccine requirement. (AP Photo/Hamish Blair) © Provided by Associated Press Protesters gather outside the Park Hotel in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. The world’s No. 1-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic is also being held there after border officials canceled his visa last week over a vaccine requirement. (AP Photo/Hamish Blair)

Djokovic was denied entry at the Melbourne airport late Wednesday after border officials canceled his visa for failing to meet its entry requirement that all non-citizens be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

Australia PM Says 'No One is Above' Rules Amid Novak Djokovic's Detainment Over COVID Jab

  Australia PM Says 'No One is Above' Rules Amid Novak Djokovic's Detainment Over COVID Jab The tennis star's detainment comes as Melbourne, where the Australian Open is held, is experiencing a massive surge in COVID cases.Djokovic, who has denied confirming whether or not he has received the COVID-19 vaccine, was detained by immigration authorities on Thursday. The Serbian tennis player was originally allowed to attend the Australian Open through an exemption given by the Victoria state government and Tennis Australia. However, that exemption and his visa were canceled upon his arrival to the country on Wednesday.

His lawyers filed court papers Saturday challenging the deportation that show Djokovic tested positive for COVID-19 last month and recovered, grounds he used in applying for a medical exemption to the country’s strict vaccination rules. A decision on his appeal is expected Monday.

Renata Voracova, a 38-year-old Czech doubles player, was detained in the same hotel over a vaccine dispute before leaving Australia on Saturday.

The Park Hotel was once a thriving tourist hotel, popular for its central location near Melbourne's network of trams and across the road from the home ground of the Carlton Australian Rules Football Club.

But for the past two years it has often been referred to as the “notorious” or “infamous” Park Hotel. At the outbreak of the pandemic it was a quarantine hotel for Australians returning from overseas and reportedly a source of a delta-variant outbreak that swept Melbourne and forced the city into months of lockdown while claiming hundreds of lives.

Novak Djokovic was granted medical exemption after testing positive for Covid-19 in December, court documents show

  Novak Djokovic was granted medical exemption after testing positive for Covid-19 in December, court documents show Novak Djokovic was granted a medical exemption to compete in the Australian Open as he had recently recovered from Covid-19, court documents published on Saturday by Australia's Federal Circuit show.Novak Djokovic was granted a medical exemption to compete in the Australian Open as he had recently recovered from Covid-19, court documents published on Saturday by Australia's Federal Circuit show.

Protesters gather outside the Park Hotel calling for the release of refugees being detained inside the hotel in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 7, 2022. The world’s No. 1-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic is also being held there after border officials canceled his visa last week over a vaccine requirement. (AP Photo/Hamish Blair) © Provided by Associated Press Protesters gather outside the Park Hotel calling for the release of refugees being detained inside the hotel in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 7, 2022. The world’s No. 1-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic is also being held there after border officials canceled his visa last week over a vaccine requirement. (AP Photo/Hamish Blair)

More recently it has been home to travelers of a different kind: refugees and asylum-seekers who have been transferred for medical reasons from Australia’s off-shore detention centers on Manus Island and Nauru in the Pacific.

There are 32 asylum-seekers sharing the hotel with Djokovic. Among them is Mehdi Ali of Iran who was 15 when he made the dangerous journey to Australia by boat. He had spent the past nine years in an off-shore processing facility for asylum-seekers and refugees, and was recently moved to the Park Hotel, where armed police guard the entrance and residents cannot leave.

Mehdi says the hotel is “like a jail” with its lengthy confinement, lack of fresh air and poor food.

Is Djokovic saga an unforced error for Australia?

  Is Djokovic saga an unforced error for Australia? The story of the star tennis player being held in Australia sparks ire at every twist and turn.Most of it has been directed at the authorities, be they in the federal or the Victorian state government.

In October, a COVID-19 outbreak infected more than half of the hotel’s then 46 residents. In December, small fires broke out on one floor, residents were evacuated and one person was treated for smoke inhalation. Damage caused by the fires affected residents' access to outdoor exercise areas, and asylum-seekers frequently complain they are confined to their rooms.

Protesters stage a rally outside the Park Hotel calling for the release of refugees being detained inside the hotel in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 7, 2022. The world’s No. 1-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic is also being held there after border officials canceled his visa last week over a vaccine requirement.(AP Photo/Hamish Blair) © Provided by Associated Press Protesters stage a rally outside the Park Hotel calling for the release of refugees being detained inside the hotel in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 7, 2022. The world’s No. 1-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic is also being held there after border officials canceled his visa last week over a vaccine requirement.(AP Photo/Hamish Blair)

Refugee advocates regularly protest outside the hotel, mostly in small numbers and unnoticed by passersby. Djokovic’s sudden arrival has energized the protesters as they seek to draw global attention to the asylum-seekers and their treatment in Australia.

A protester holds a banner outside the Park Hotel calling for the release of refugees being detained inside the hotel in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. The world’s No. 1-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic is also being held there after border officials canceled his visa last week over a vaccine requirement.(AP Photo/Hamish Blair) © Provided by Associated Press A protester holds a banner outside the Park Hotel calling for the release of refugees being detained inside the hotel in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. The world’s No. 1-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic is also being held there after border officials canceled his visa last week over a vaccine requirement.(AP Photo/Hamish Blair)

An Amnesty International campaign manager, Shankar Kasynathan, was among several groups protesting outside the Park Hotel on Friday. One large group of Serbian-Australians protested Djokovic’s detention while another smaller group of protesters celebrated his opposition to vaccine mandates.

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  2022 Australian Open betting preview: Is Novak Djokovic a fade? It’s already been an eventful affair with the drama surrounding world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, his vaccination status and whether he should play. Djokovic is still listed as the No. 1 seed of the ATP draw as of Thursday, but a lot can change from now until the start of the tournament. If Djokovic plays he has a solid chance at reaching another Australian Open final, which is his most successful Grand Slam event. Djokovic has won 20 Grand Slam titles and nine at the Australian. He enters as the reigning champ and is on his second three-year winning streak at the event. Djokovic has never won four straight Australian Opens.

A protester hold a banner with others outside the Park Hotel calling for the release of refugees being detained inside the hotel in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 7, 2022. The world’s No. 1-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic is also being held there after border officials canceled his visa last week over a vaccine requirement. (AP Photo/Hamish Blair) © Provided by Associated Press A protester hold a banner with others outside the Park Hotel calling for the release of refugees being detained inside the hotel in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 7, 2022. The world’s No. 1-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic is also being held there after border officials canceled his visa last week over a vaccine requirement. (AP Photo/Hamish Blair)

“The world is watching at this point because we have one of the world’s most celebrated athletes ... under the same roof as the world’s most vulnerable people, namely refugees,” Kasynathan said.

“We hope that Novak Djokovic will use his influence, his support base to potentially put pressure on (Home Affairs Minister) Karen Andrews and the Australian government to end this senseless cruelty,” he added.

A refugee protester is surrounded by police outside the Park Hotel in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. The world’s No. 1-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic is also being held there after border officials canceled his visa last week over a vaccine requirement.(AP Photo/Hamish Blair) © Provided by Associated Press A refugee protester is surrounded by police outside the Park Hotel in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. The world’s No. 1-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic is also being held there after border officials canceled his visa last week over a vaccine requirement.(AP Photo/Hamish Blair)

Australia first introduced offshore processing at Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and Nauru in 2001 as part of its “Pacific Solution” to asylum-seekers and refugees attempting to reach Australia by boat, often with the help of traffickers. Offshore processing was suspended in 2008 but resumed in August 2012.

A protester holds a banner outside the Park Hotel calling for the release of refugees being detained inside the hotel in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. The world’s No. 1-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic is also being held there after border officials canceled his visa last week over a vaccine requirement. (AP Photo/Hamish Blair) © Provided by Associated Press A protester holds a banner outside the Park Hotel calling for the release of refugees being detained inside the hotel in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. The world’s No. 1-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic is also being held there after border officials canceled his visa last week over a vaccine requirement. (AP Photo/Hamish Blair)

Since July 2013, successive Australian governments have said no refugees will be resettled in Australia from Nauru or Manus Island. By mid-2021, about 1,000 refugees from the offshore centers had been resettled in other countries, including more than 900 in the United States.

Many in the offshore centers have been transferred back to Australia for medical reasons and have been detained at places like the Park Hotel.

Djokovic will be granted his freedom on Monday one way or another. If his legal challenge to the cancellation of his visa is successful he will be able to defend his Australian Open title next month. If not, he will have to return home.

For others at the Park Hotel there will be no such choice. Their wait will continue.

'I Am Extremely Disappointed': Novak Djokovic Reacts to Deportation From Australia .
Here's what the 20-time Major champion had to say following losing his appeal hearing. Twenty-time Major singles champion Novak Djokovic left Australia on Sunday after losing a legal challenge against a decision which revoked his visa from the country for the second time. In a virtual hearing, three Federal Court judges unanimously dismissed Djokovic's application to overturn the immigration minister's decision to cancel his visa. He had hoped to remain in the country so that he could compete in the upcoming Australian Open, where he is the three-time defending champion and was set to play on Monday.

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