Novak Djokovic has been arrested just hours after winning his appeal against the Australian government, according to his outspoken father.
The Australian government previously cancelled the tennis star’s visa and detained him when he arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday.
Djokovic won his appeal and a court ordered his immediate release – but another option was available to the Government, where the immigration minister himself could revoke the 34-year-old’s visa on account of the fact he is not vaccinated against coronavirus.
Now Srdjan Djokovic has now told Serbian journalists his son has been arrested by police, although the Australian government and tennis sources have said the claim is untrue.
Australian journalist Paul Karp told LBC earlier the stakes had “risen rather than receded” with Djokovic’s victory, because there remained a “nuclear option” for the immigration minister himself to deport the player – meaning his participation in the next three Australian Opens hangs in the balance.
“Novak Djokovic’s lawyers were attacking the fairness of the way that he was questioned in the early hours of the morning and particularly the fact that the Australian government reneged on a deal to allow him to talk to Tennis Australia officials,” Mr Karp told LBC’s Nick Ferrari at Breakfast.
“That was the focus of most of the argument but really Djokovic has won the battle but might still lose the war here, because the Australian government has agreed to quash the decision cancelling his visa… but the government lawyers told the court that they are considering using a separate power in the migration act for the immigration minister to personally cancel his visa.”
Mr Karp described it as a “nuclear option”, explaining that the repercussions of taking it could be huge.
“If they use this power he will be deported from Australia and cannot come back for three years, so as the judge observed at the end of the hearing today, the stakes have actually risen than receded because we’re now talking about whether he can play in the 2022, 2023 and 2024 Australian opens,” he said.
“It could even affect whether Australia is able to host the Australian open tournament in the next three years.”
The Australian government cancelled the 34-year-old’s visa, saying he was not exempt from the stringent vaccine rules despite claims he was recently infected with the virus.
But Judge Anthony Kelly has quashed the cancellation, and ordered the Australian Government to pay legal costs and release Djokovic from detention within half an hour.
But it does not mean the vaccine row is over.
Government counsel Christopher Tran notified the court that the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs – not the minister who made the original visa cancellation – will now consider whether to exercise a personal power of cancellation of Djokovic’s visa.
The virtual hearing began at 10am local time on Monday (11pm on Sunday in UK-time).
The Serb’s lawyers argued Australian border officials did not give Djokovic enough notice of the government’s intention to revoke his visa, and argued he had a valid exemption from vaccination due to being recently infected with coronavirus.
Djokovic travelled to Australia to play in the Australian Open last week, which begins on January 17.
The top-ranked Serb had hoped to defend his title and win a men’s record 21st Grand Slam singles title.
But, despite allegedly being told by officials he would be given an exemption to the stringent vaccine rules in order to compete, he was denied entry when he arrived at Melbourne’s airport on Wednesday.
The case has polarised opinion around the world and elicited heartfelt support for the tennis star in his native Serbia.
His parents recently joined a protest rally in the capital Belgrade, with his mother Dijana Djokovic telling the crowd: “Today is a big day.
“Today, the whole world will hear the truth.
“We hope that Novak will come out as a free man.
“We send great love to Novak.
“We believe in him, but also in the independent judiciary in Melbourne.”
Djokovic’s father Srdjan Djokovic said “this is happening because we are only a small part of the world, but we are proud people”.
He added: “They can’t break us. Novak is the personification of freedom, everything human that one man contains in himself. Shame on them!”
Mrs Djokovic said that the conditions in the hotel in Melbourne where Djokovic is staying are “not humane”.
“He doesn’t even have breakfast,” she said.
“He has a wall to stare at and he can’t even see a park in front or go out of the room.”