Tennis world No. 1 Novak Djokovic will spend his fifth night this week in a detention hotel in Melbourne after his visa was sensationally cancelled for a second time.
It will be Mr Djokovic's first night back in detention after his lawyers successfully argued to have the first of the two attempts at cancelling his visa overturned, and that he should be allowed more one night of freedom after the Immigration Minister used his personal discretionary powers to cancel the visa a second time.
The in-court match between the Serbian tennis star and the Australian government went into extra sets, while the Serbian President took to social media to ask why Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was harassing and torturing their country's favoured son.
'Scott Morrison, why do you torture him?'
The Instagram video captioned "Support for Novak Djokovic and response to the Prime Minister of Australia", in which President Aleksander Vucic asks if Mr Morrison was motivated by the upcoming election, has been watched more than 29,000 times.
"Why do you mistreat him? Why do you torture him, as well as his family and nation that is free and proud?"
A timetable for the hearing of the new appeal was set for 9.30am on Sunday and could be heard by three judges of the Federal Court.
A procedural hearing of the application by Mr Djokovic's lawyers was held early on Saturday morning as he fights to have Immigration Minister Alex Hawke's use of his extraordinary discretionary powers declared invalid.
Back in immigration detention
Mr Djokovic was then driven from his lawyer's office to the Park Hotel in Melbourne's Carlton, which is being used as an immigration detention centre.
Wearing a green tracksuit and a white face mask, he appeared composed in the back of a vehicle.
The tennis star was detained by immigration officials in Melbourne on Saturday in accordance with an earlier ruling by a Federal Circuit Court judge that he could avoid detention for one night before returning to the hotel where hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers have been held for two years and counting.
The 34-year-old was detained at the hotel for four nights when his visa was first cancelled.
Justice David O'Callaghan had still not decided by late Saturday whether he alone or the full bench of three justices would preside over the hearing.
No new details were revealed in that hearing about the interview immigration officials held with the tennis star on Saturday. Nor did it hear any heard any further arguments about the grounds on which the case should proceed.
Fostering 'anti-vaccination sentiment'
However, Mr Hawke's reasons for cancelling the visa were made public on Saturday as part of a 268-page affidavit released by the Federal Court following the procedural hearing.
In it, Mr Hawke suggested the unvaccinated Serbian's presence during the Australian Open could encourage residents to shirk isolation rules, given the tennis star's concession to having previously done so, and foster "anti-vaccination sentiment".
This, the minister said, could lead to civil unrest akin to previous anti-vaccination protests and fewer people getting their booster.
Djokovic's law firm Hall & Wilcox flatly rejected the claim in its grounds for appealing the visa cancellation, saying the minister had not cited any evidence to back it up.
The firm argued Mr Hawke's contention could "not logically, rationally and reasonably be assessed" without considering whether booting Djokovic out of the country would excite similar anti-vaccination sentiments.
Further, it was argued the world No.1 had garnered support in Australia and abroad to remain in the country and compete at Melbourne Park, pointing to a petition with 96,000 signatures and an online poll run by a news outlet.
Potential for further appeals
The case will be heard on Sunday morning, but Justice David O'Callaghan did not rule whether he alone or the full bench of three justices would preside.
Mr Djokovic's team said they wanted the full bench to hear the case so the matter could be decided without the possibility of a later appeal to the full bench.
His legal team have been ordered to file their initial claims by midday and their full submission by 10pm on Saturday ahead of the hearing to take place at 9.30am on Sunday.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke's cancelling of Mr Djokovic's visa on Friday afternoon would have led to his deportation and a three-year exclusion from returning to Australia if not for the intervention of his lawyers seeking an appeal.
Mr Hawke used his discretionary powers late on Friday afternoon to cancel the top ranked male player's visa, after considering evidence from Mr Djokovic's lawyers, along with advice from federal agencies.
"I exercised my power under section 133C(3) of the Migration Act to cancel the visa held by Mr Novak Djokovic on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was held in the public interest to do so," Mr Hawke said in a statement.
The Mr Djokovic drama began just over a week ago, when the athlete announced he was heading to Melbourne with a medical exemption from COVID-19 vaccination requirements.
The Australian Open begins on Monday, with the world No.1 looking to secure his 10th title at the event.
He was named in the Australian Open draw on Thursday to face Serbian compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round.
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