Tennis

Insane legal costs Novak Djokovic spent in Australia

Novak Djokovic. Photo/AP Photo/Elise Amendola

When Novak Djokovic flew to Melbourne, Australia ready to defend his Australian Open title, he was not aware that he would spend over $360,000 in legal costs to fight deportation.

All this was recently revealed at a Senate estimates hearing in Australia where the cost of fighting deportation was broken down.

In the first court hearing, the Department of Home Affairs was ordered to reimburse Djokovic’s legal fees for the quashing of the original cancellation of his visa.

Judge Antony Keller set Djokovic free from detention where he had been for days after arrival to Melbourne.

Pip De Veau, the head of the Home Affairs Legal Department said the combined estimate “was in the vicinity of $360,000 without any awards going either way.”

The amount includes external legal expenses and legal expenses internally.

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic is focused in playing at the Australian Open. Photo/Djokovic

De Veau adds that the second proceedings awarded the department a right to claim legal costs from Djokovic.

The controversy surrounding Djokovic’s vaccination status began when his visa was cancelled after his arrival in Australia for the first time in early January.

Following a six-hour standoff at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport, the 20-time Grand Slam champion was issued his marching orders by Border Officials.

An Australian panel accepted his request for a medical exemption, which was lodged anonymously. Errors were made on another form of documentation, the one for trip declaration.

He says this was not deliberate adding that the Federal Court and the Ministry for Immigration in Australia accepted it.

His attorneys said he flew to Australia after being granted a COVID-19 exemption. This made him eligible to compete in the tournament before his visa was abruptly revoked.

A visa mix-up and a Covid-19 positive test in December 2021 formed the basis of his standoff with Australian Border Officials.

Djokovic was detained at a government-operated hotel, despite his pleas to be moved to a more luxurious location with a tennis court. His plea to have his private chef prepare vegan meals was denied by Border officials.

His legal team moved to court and Judge Keller reinstated his visa and ordered him be freed.

However, Keller said the final say was with Hawke who said that his office scrutinized the issue sufficiently before cancelling Djokovic’s visa.

Government lawyers argued that Djokovic poses an “overwhelming risk” to the general public. They say that his decision to attend tennis activities while infected with Covid show recklessness.

In a unanimous decision, Chief Justice James Allsop and Justices Anthony Besanko and David O’Callaghan determined that Djokovic did not have sufficient grounds to challenge Hawke’s deportation order.

Justice Allsop had previously stated that he understood Djokovic may be viewed as “an iconic sports player who is providing an example that is not ideal to be followed.”

Australian Open director Craig Tiley said that Djokovic got a three-year ban but later retracted it.

Tiley told ABC TV that Djokovic could play in next year’s Australian Open.

Speaking recently to BBC in a wide-ranging interview, Djokovic said that as far as immunization goes, he is not opposed to it.

However, he won’t hesitate to walk away from Wimbledon or French Open championships if he is forced to get Covid-19 vaccination. He says that all he has done is fight for freedom of what goes to his body.

He is resolute that he will not defend his Wimbledon and French Open titles this season if he is forced to get vaccinated.

The 20-time Grand Slam Champion explains that everyone must have a right to choose what they feel is appropriate for them.

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic was denied entry into Australia over visa mix up. Photos/Akmi

Despite being deported from Melbourne before the Australian Open last month, Djokovic distanced himself from the anti-vaccination movement.

However, he said he is open-minded about vaccination in the future because he understands the world is looking for a solution to end the pandemic.

“I was never against vaccination. I understand that globally, everyone is trying to put a big effort into handling this virus and seeing, hopefully, an end soon to this virus.

Nonetheless, James Blake, the Miami Open tournament director is hopeful that Novak Djokovic will play in March.

The Miami Open director said that they would love to have Djokovic at the tournament after the Australia saga.

Not speaking of vaccination in a pronounced manner, Blake said it is now upon Djokovic to interpret the health protocols of the tournament.

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