Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic will appear before a federal court in Melbourne today to challenge a decision to deport him ahead of the Australian Open.
The tournament granted Djokovic a medical exemption to its vaccine requirement on the basis of Djokovic having recovered from COVID-19 in December. Australian border authorities cancelled his visa on Thursday after they determined the exemption was illegal.
The Australian court will ultimately decide a question of domestic law, but the outcome has implications beyond the fate of Djokovic’s visa. Should the court affirm Djokovic’s deportation order, Australia will send a message that it intends to strictly enforce its laws designed to stop the spread of COVID-19. This might move Australia further forward as a leader in the global fight against COVID-19; however, it could also backfire and encourage further domestic opposition to the country’s exceptionally strict anti-virus measures.
On the other hand, if Djokovic’s visa is reinstated domestic ire could still arise based on the perception that the tennis star is above the law because of his celebrity.
The decision could also worsen Serbian-Australian relations. Djokovic is very popular in Serbia and his parents have already organized protests against the Australian government.
Nick is the Director of the Daily Brief and a contributing Senior Analyst to it. An attorney, his areas of expertise include international law, international and domestic criminal law, security affairs in Europe and the Middle East, and human rights.