Coronavirus: Novak Djokovic’s Australian visa reinstated by judge

MELBOURNE, Australia — An Australian judge has rejected Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic’s visa cancellation ahead of the Australian Open, The Associated Press is reporting.

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Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly, who made the decision Monday, also ordered the 34-year-old, top-ranked player to be released from immigration detention in a Melbourne hotel, where he had been in quarantine, the AP reported.

>> Novak Djokovic was granted vaccine exemption after testing positive, lawyers say

Djokovic’s visa was canceled Wednesday after he arrived in Australia because he has not been vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the news agency. Officials said Djokovic, who said he tested positive for coronavirus last month, did not qualify for an exemption from a rule requiring all noncitizens to be fully vaccinated against the disease before entering the country.

But Djokovic had received medical exemptions from Tennis Australia and two medical panels, which he provided when he arrived at the Melbourne airport, Kelly said.

“What more could this man have done?” the judge asked Monday, the AP reported.

Attorneys for Home Affairs Minister Karen Andres previously said they might cancel Djokovic’s visa again if the judge ruled in his favor, according to the AP. Although Australian officials have said they may grant temporary exemptions to people who have recovered from COVID-19 within the past six months, the prior infections must be classified as “acute,” Andres’ lawyers said. Djokovic, they argued, has not proven that his illness was acute.

New coronavirus cases and deaths appear to be on the rise in Australia. As of Sunday, the country was averaging more than 69,000 new cases per day – an increase of 770% over the past two weeks, according to The New York Times. Over the same 14-day period, the average number of new daily deaths rose to 14, an increase of 102%, the newspaper reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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