Novak Djokovic Loses Legal Fight Over Deportation, Flies Out Of Australia
MELBOURNE, Jan 16: Novak Djokovic was deported from Australia Sunday having lost a sensational legal battle over his coronavirus vaccination status and with his dream of clinching a record 21st Grand Slam in tatters.
An "extremely disappointed" Djokovic said he would comply with a unanimous Federal Court decision to uphold his visa cancellation over fears he could stoke anti-vaccine sentiment.
"I cannot stay in Australia and participate in the Australian Open," he said on the eve of a tournament that he has dominated for a decade.
"I hope that we can all now focus on the game and tournament I love."
An AFP reporter captured images of Djokovic at Melbourne's Tullamarine airport late Sunday, as the humbled star boarded a flight for Dubai.
Just hours earlier, in a few dry words, the chief justice of Australia's Federal Court, James Allsop, dispensed with the unvaccinated tennis superstar's attempt to reinstate his cancelled visa and to make tennis history.
"The orders of the court are that the amended application be dismissed with costs," Allsop said in understated remarks that ended a week of legal high drama.
Three Federal Court justices had listened to half a day of feisty legal back-and-forth about Djokovic's alleged risk to public order in Australia.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke claimed Djokovic's stance could inspire anti-vaccine sentiment, leading some people to face the pandemic without vaccination and inspiring anti-vaxxer activists to gather in protests and rallies.
Hawke welcomed Sunday's verdict, saying: "Australia's strong border protection policies have kept us safe during the pandemic."
"(They) are also fundamental to safeguarding Australia's social cohesion," he said.
The player's high-powered legal team tried but failed to paint Australia's effort to deport him as "irrational" and "unreasonable".
Despite the star being unvaccinated, lawyer Nick Wood insisted his client had not courted anti-vaxxer support and was not associated with the movement.
The government "doesn't know what Mr Djokovic's current views are", Wood insisted.
The court did not endorse the government's decision, but ruled the action was legal under rules that give the minister exceptional and almost unquestionable executive power.
Novak Djokovic Back In Detention In Australia, Declared 'Public Threat'
MELBOURNE, Jan 15: Australia detained Novak Djokovic for a second time on Saturday, calling the tennis star a threat to public order and fighting in court to deport him.
Having once failed to remove the unvaccinated 34-year-old from the country, Australia's conservative government is trying again. And again Djokovic is fighting back.
A federal court hearing is scheduled for Sunday and in the meantime Djokovic was placed under guard at an undisclosed Melbourne location, believed to be his lawyers' offices. He is expected to spend Saturday night in immigration detention, after a few short-lived days of freedom following his first successful court appeal.
For millions around the world, the Serbian star is best known as a gangly all-conquering tennis champion, with a ferocious backhand and some questionable views on Covid-19.
But in court filings, Australia has cast him as a talisman for anti-vaxxers and a catalyst for potential "civil unrest", who must be removed.
Djokovic's presence in Australia "may foster anti-vaccination sentiment", immigration minister Alex Hawke argued, justifying his use of broad executive powers to revoke the ace's visa.
Not only could Djokovic encourage people to flout health rules, Hawke said, but his presence could lead to "civil unrest".
So with just two days before the Australian Open begins, the defending champion is again focused on law courts rather than centre court.
This is the second attempt by Australia's conservative government to deport Djokovic, one of the world's most high-profile Covid-19 vaccine sceptics.
After months of speculation about whether Djokovic would get vaccinated to play in Australia, he used a medical exemption to enter the country a week ago, hoping to challenge for a record 21st Grand Slam title at the Open.
Many Australians -- who have suffered prolonged lockdowns and border restrictions -- believe Djokovic gamed the system to dodge vaccine entry requirements.
Amid public outcry, Prime Minister Scott Morrison's government revoked Djokovic's visa on arrival.
But the government was humiliated when a judge reinstated Djokovic's visa and allowed him to remain in the country.
This time, the government has invoked exceptional -- and difficult to challenge -- executive powers to declare him a threat to public health and safety.
Experts say the case has taken on significance beyond the fate of one man who happens to be good at tennis.
"The case is likely to define how tourists, foreign visitors and even Australian citizens view the nation's immigration policies and 'equality before the law' for years to come," said Sanzhuan Guo, a law lecturer at Flinders University.
Djokovic's lawyers argue the government "cited no evidence" to support their claims.
The minister admitted that Djokovic is at "negligible" risk of infecting Australians, but argued his past "disregard" for Covid-19 regulations may pose a risk to public health and encourage people to ignore pandemic rules.
The tennis ace contracted Covid-19 in mid-December and, according to his own account, failed to isolate despite knowing he was positive.
Public records show he attended a stamp unveiling, youth tennis event and granted a media interview around the time he got tested and his latest infection was confirmed.
Djokovic is the Australian Open's top seed and a nine-time winner of the tournament. He had been practising just hours before Hawke's decision was announced.
The visa cancellation effectively means Djokovic would be barred from obtaining a new Australian visa for three years, except under exceptional circumstances, ruling him out of one of the four Grand Slam tournaments during that time.
He is currently tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal with 20 Grand Slam titles each.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Friday accused Australia of "mistreating" the country's biggest star, and a national hero.
"If you wanted to ban Novak Djokovic from winning the 10th trophy in Melbourne why didn't you return him immediately, why didn't you tell him 'it is impossible to obtain a visa'?" Vucic said on Instagram.
"Novak, we stand by you!"
Spanish great Nadal took a swipe at his rival on Saturday as players complained the scandal was overshadowing the opening Grand Slam of the year.
"The Australian Open is much more important than any player," Nadal told reporters at Melbourne Park.
"Australian Open will be a great Australian Open with or without him."
Defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka called the Djokovic saga "unfortunate" and "sad" and said it could be the defining moment of his career.
"I think it's an unfortunate situation. He's such a great player and it's kind of sad that some people might remember (him) in this way," she said.
World number four Stefanos Tsitsipas criticised the 20-time Grand Slam winner and rival earlier this week, saying he was "playing by his own rules".
But he was reluctant to get involved again on Saturday.
"I'm here to talk about tennis, not Novak Djokovic," said the Greek star.
Novak Djokovic Says He Wants To Play In Australian Open After Visa Victory
MELBOURNE, Jan 10: Tennis superstar Novak Djokovic said on Monday he was hoping to still compete in the Australian Open, hours after winning a stunning victory over the Australian government in his visa battle.
The ruling overturned the cancellation of Djokovic's visa on Covid-19 health grounds, and ended the unvaccinated player's detention in an immigration facility, potentially clearing the way for him to play in the tournament that starts next Monday.
His mother Dijana, speaking at a press conference in Belgrade, called it "the biggest victory in his career, bigger than all his grand slams".
Djokovic tweeted from Melbourne: “Despite all that has happened, I want to stay and try to compete @AustralianOpen. I remain focused on that."
In an emergency online court hearing, the judge ordered that the decision to cancel Djokovic's visa "be quashed".
He instructed that the 34-year-old men's world number one "be released immediately and forthwith from immigration detention".
Djokovic had arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday ahead of the Australian Open, where he hopes to win a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title.
But the tournament may yet be out of reach.
The government's lawyer told the court that Immigration Minister Alex Hawke may decide to use his "personal power of cancellation" despite the player's legal victory.
Rafael Nadal, one of Djokovic's main rivals for the title, said "it is the fairest thing" for his rival to play in the Australian Open.
"Regardless of whether or not I agree on some things with Djokovic, without any doubt, justice has spoken," Nadal told Spanish radio station Onda Cero.
After touching down in Australia last week, Djokovic was taken into an overnight interview with border agents, who decided the champion had failed to present a solid medical reason for not being jabbed.
"I am not vaccinated," he told the official.
Djokovic's visa was revoked and he was moved to a notorious immigration detention facility pending deportation.
He spent four nights in the former Park Hotel, a five-storey facility that holds about 32 migrants trapped in Australia's hardline immigration system -- some for many years.
An early plea by Djokovic to be moved to a facility where he can train for the Australian Open had fallen on deaf ears, his lawyers said.
The court's finding said the government had conceded that its actions were "unreasonable" because the player was not given the chance to reply fully before his visa was torn up.
In the early hours of Thursday, Djokovic had been told he had until 8:30 am (2130 GMT Wednesday) to reply to the proposed cancellation of his visa. But instead, the border agent cancelled it at 7:42 am.
The judge said that had Djokovic been given until 8:30 am as first promised, "he could have consulted others and made submissions to the delegate about why his visa should not be cancelled".
According to a transcript of the airport interview, Djokovic told the border control agent: "I just really don't understand what is the reason you don't allow me to enter your country."
Though it had no bearing on his court case, Djokovic's claim of a positive test on December 16 stirred controversy after it emerged he had attended a gathering that day for the Serbian national postal service, which launched a stamp series in his honour.
And pictures shared by the Belgrade tennis federation showed him at a young players' event in the city on December 17.
It reported that he handed over cups and prizes to players. No one was wearing a mask.
Microgravity and SLW Golf Management to host India's Biggest Indoor Golf Tournament Series
By Deepak Arora
GURUGRAM, Nov 19: India's first-ever Indoor Golf Tournament series tees off on Saturday with hundreds of golfers and enthusiasts taking a swing on the latest state-of-the-art indoor golf simulator at one of the most iconic courses in the world, Pebble Beach Golf Links.
The tournament will be held on 20th, 21st, 27th and 28th November at Microgravity, 1st Floor, JMD Empire Square, MG Road, Gurgaon.
The registration for the tournament has a fee of Rs 3,000 per player.
Microgravity Ventures Private Limited, a facilitator of world-class gaming hubs and eSports tournaments in India, has partnered with Sports & Leisure Worldwide (SLW) to host Microgravity Corporate Masters, India's biggest Indoor Golf Tournament Series.
Microgravity and SLW Golf Management will announce the winners of the thrilling tournament on 28th November followed by prize distribution across exciting categories like Winner Gross Men & Ladies, Winner Nett Men & Ladies, Runner-up Gross Men, Runner-up Nett Men, Longest Drive Men & Ladies, Closest to the Pin and Straightest Drive.
To add-on to the exhilarating experience, all Winners will also get a chance to immerse themselves with their family for a full day with the best of unlimited gaming at Microgravity's gaming hub.
Talking about the tournament, Rahul Bhattacharya, Co-Founder and MD, Microgravity said, "We are very excited to partner with the best in the industry for our upcoming tournament series. These tournaments will bring the best Golf technology with the best of Golf courses from across the globe. It is exclusively designed to fuel the growth of the sport in the gaming ecosystem.:
"At Microgravity's state-of-the-art indoor Golf simulator, players can not only gain a better understanding about the sport but also have a safe and immersive experience while being carefree about the weather conditions," he added.
Rahul Bhattacharya said "The Golf community in India needs support and motivation to pursue their passion, and we want to offer just that. Our aim is to provide the best learning and playing experiences to anyone and everyone who is a Golf enthusiast. The pre-registration phase has already seen great success among the golfing fraternity. We are proud to present India's biggest Indoor Golf Tournament Series. We look forward to an exciting tournament and wish all the participants the best of luck."
Commenting on the partnership, Anil Dev, CEO, Sports & Leisure Worldwide, said, "It gives us immense pleasure to be a part of an indoor golf tournament series which is a great step in promoting golf and help people gain expertise in the sport."
He said "Microgravity is a unique gaming hub that offers high quality and immersive gaming experiences with the best of safety features. With this tournament, we are entering the new era of indoor Golf which will be a great value addition to take the golf experience to the next level," added Anil Dev.
"We at IGPN are thrilled to announce our partnership to run a professionally managed golf programme with certified 'A' level instructors like Arun Kumar and help people enhance their skills in Golf."
Monish Bindra, Founder & CEO, Integrated Golf Performance Network, said "Microgravity is a purveyor of safe and immersive gaming hubs and IGPN Academies believe in having fun and falling in love with the game of golf. We are confident that with this partnership we will usher in a paradigm shift in the world of Golf."
He said "These programmes are well established, tried and tested for all levels of golfers. These coaching techniques are also at par with international standards. The top of the line golf simulator at Microgravity arena provides data on ball flight and swing analysis. This helps the coach and player get great feedback from swing path, club head rotation, spin rate, spin axis, smash factor, launch angle which accelerates the rate of learning and make the experience more interesting and enjoyable."
Monish Bindra said "The world is going through unprecedented changes and it would be safe to say that with this initiative by Microgravity, we are ready to embrace the new era of Golf in India."
Microgravity Corporate Masters, powered by SLW Golf Management is a call out to Golfers and Corporate folks to come, experience and take a swing at one of the best Golf Simulators in the world at one of the most iconic PGA certified courses, Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Rohit Sharma Becomes 2nd Batter To Hit 150 Sixes In T20s
KOLKATA, Nov 21: Rohit Sharma won the toss for the third time in a row and elected to bat on a flat deck at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata in the third T20 international against New Zealand, looking to give his team some much needed practice of setting a big target.
India has struggled to win matches, when batting first in T20Is and it led to their early exit from the ICC T20 World Cup 2021, after losses to Pakistan and New Zealand in the Super 12 stage. Rohit and opening partner Ishan Kishan gave the hosts a flying start, as they threw caution to the wind and launched a vicious attack on the New Zealand pace attack.
India managed to get 69 runs in the powerplay as Rohit and Kishan hit boundaries at will. While Kishan was unbeaten on 29 off 19 balls after the first six overs, his captain was on 39 off 17 deliveries. Rohit had hit three massive sixes in the powerplay and the last of them took him to the milestone of 150 sixes in T20 internationals.
It came off the bowling of Lockie Ferguson as Rohit pulled a short delivery into the stands through the space between the square led and deep fine leg fielder. New Zealand opener Martin Guptill leads the list with 161 sixes and could add more to his numbers when he comes out to bat later in the evening. Rohit has now become only the second batsman to get past the 150 sixes mark. West Indies' Chris Gayle is on the third spot with 124 maximums to his name. The next Indian in the list is Virat Kohli, who is quite far off with 91 sixes to his name.
The script changed soon for India as stand-in New Zealand captain Mitchell Santner introduced himself into the attack and picked up the wickets of Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav and Rishabh Pant in quick succession.