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Novak Djokovic: Andy Murray says rival's Australian visa saga is 'not good' for tennis

Djokovic being held in isolation in Melbourne awaiting outcome of appeal against decision by Australian Border Force (ABF) to cancel his entry visa and deport him; the hearing is set to go ahead on Monday after an Australian government appeal to delay it was rejected

Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray (Getty)
Image: Andy Murray (right) has spoken out on Novak Djokovic's situation

Andy Murray has expressed concern for Novak Djokovic but has warned his long-term rival's ongoing Australian visa saga is "really not good for tennis".  

Djokovic is awaiting the outcome of his appeal - to be heard on Monday - against Australia's decision to cancel his visa and deport him ahead of the Australian Open later this month.

The world No 1 has been detained at an immigration facility in Melbourne since Thursday morning after his visa was cancelled following scrutiny of the medical exemption he had secured to travel to the first tennis major of the year.

Details of the appeal submitted by Djokovic's lawyers claim the 34-year-old's exemption was reliant upon a positive Covid-19 test in December

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A bid by the Australian government to delay Djokovic's appeal against deportation has been denied, meaning the court case will go ahead on Monday

"I think everyone is shocked by it, to be honest," said Murray, who is in Australia preparing for the tournament.

"I'm going to say two things on it just now. The first thing is that I hope that Novak is OK. I know him well, and I've always had a good relationship with him and I hope that he's OK.

"The second thing, it's really not good for tennis at all, and I don't think it's good for anyone involved. I think it's really bad."

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Britain's Andy Murray celebrates a point during a singles quarterfinal match against Tommy Paul of Canada at the Stockholm Open at the Royal Tennis Hall in Stockholm, Thursday Nov. 11, 2021. (Fredrik Sandberg/TT via AP)
Image: Murray says everyone has been 'shocked' by the Djokovic saga

According to his legal team, Djokovic - who is hoping to win his 21st Grand Slam title - was provided with a letter from the chief medical officer of Tennis Australia recording he had a medical exemption from Covid vaccination.

It is claimed the exemption certificate was "provided by an Independent Expert Medical Review panel commissioned by Tennis Australia", and "the decision of that panel had been reviewed and endorsed by an independent Medical Exemptions Review Panel of the Victorian State Government".

Djokovic's lawyers added he was granted an "Australian Travel Declaration" because he was told by the authorities that [he met] the requirements for a quarantine-free arrival into Australia".

A vocal opponent of vaccine mandates, Djokovic had declined to reveal his vaccination status or reason for seeking a medical exemption from Australia's vaccine rules.

On Sunday, the Australian government was rejected in an appeal to delay the hearing until Wednesday.

Judge Anthony Kelly rejected the submission by home affairs minister Karen Andrews to delay the hearing. However, the judge left the government with the option of making another application to delay on Monday.

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The Melbourne public have their say on whether Djokovic is being treated fairly or unfairly

Djokovic's lawyers will have up to two hours to present their case from 10am on Monday (2300 GMT on Sunday), while the government department gets two hours to present its defence from 3pm (0400 GMT), the Federal Circuit and Family Court ruled.

A Home Affairs spokesperson was not immediately available for comment about its legal defence.

The Melbourne drama has rocked world tennis, caused tensions between Serbia and Australia and become a flashpoint for opponents of vaccine mandates around the world.

Writing on Instagram on Friday, Djokovic thanked his fans for their support. He said: "Thank you to people around the world for your continuous support. I can feel it and it is greatly appreciated. Thank you to my family, Serbia and all good people across the world who are sending me support. Thanks to dear God for health."

Novak Djokovic - Sequence of events

January 4 - Djokovic announces he will be travelling to Australia with an 'exemption permission'.
January 5 - While Djokovic is airborne, Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the athlete will be on the "next plane home" if he cannot provide "acceptable proof" that his exemption is legitimate.
Acting Sports Minister Jaala Pulford highlights that the local government of Victoria, where the Australian Open is held, will not support Djokovic's visa application.
The world No 1 arrives at Melbourne Airport around 11.30pm local time.
January 6 - Around 3.15am, Djokovic's father reports that his son is being held in isolation in Melbourne Airport.
At 5am, Goran Ivanisevic releases an image on social media of himself and another member of Djokovic's team seemingly waiting for the world No 1. The post is captioned, ‘Not the most usual trip Down Under’.
Around 8.15am local time, Djokovic's visa is confirmed to have been denied by the Australian Border Force.
Djokovic is moved to quarantine hotel while his legal team appeal visa cancellation.
The appeal against his visa cancellation is adjourned until Monday (Jan 10) morning Australian time.
January 7 - Australia Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews says Djokovic is "free to leave any time" and is not being detained.
Djokovic breaks silence in Instagram post on Friday, thanking his fans for their "continuous support".
January 8 - Submission from Djokovic's lawyers on Saturday reveals positive Covid-19 test in December.
January 9 - Home Affairs Minister Andrews has a submission to delay the hearing until Wednesday (Jan 12) rejected by Judge Anthony Kelly.

Why was Djokovic in public after alleged positive test?

Novak Djokovic is facing fresh questions over why he was pictured in public on the day he claimed he tested positive for Covid-19.

In legal documents, Djokovic has claimed he tested positive on December 16, but the world No 1 attended an event on the same day at the Belgrade headquarters of the Serbian national post office, which was honouring him and his career with the release of a series of stamps.

Djokovic posted pictures from the event - in which he is seen maskless - on his Twitter account on December 17.

It is unclear if Djokovic knew he had Covid when he attended the event.

Djokovic's Aussie Open debacle: What's happened?

Djokovic flew to Australia with a 'vaccine exemption' and arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday, but was ultimately denied entry into the country after nine hours at the airport.

The Serb's visa was one that did not allow for medical exemptions and was cancelled, after which he was moved to hotel quarantine as his team launched an appeal - this appeal has been adjourned until Monday morning at 10am local time (Sunday 11pm GMT).

The Australian Home Affairs department appealed for the hearing to be delayed until Wednesday, but their request was rejected on Sunday by Judge Anthony Kelly.

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