Novak Djokovic faces deportation again after the Australian government revoked his visa for a second time, the latest twist in the ongoing saga over whether the No. 1-ranked tennis player will be allowed to compete in the Australian Open despite being unvaccinated for COVID-19.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said Friday he used his ministerial discretion to cancel the 34-year-old Serb’s visa on public interest grounds — just three days before play begins at the Australian Open, where Djokovic has won a record nine of his 20 Grand Slam titles.
Djokovic’s lawyers were expected to appeal at the Federal Circuit and Family Court, which they already successfully did last week on procedural grounds after his visa was first cancelled when he landed at a Melbourne airport.
A court hearing Friday night heard Djokovic would not be detained or deported overnight, but would have to attend a meeting with his lawyers and immigration officials in Melbourne at 8 a.m. local time Saturday.
Deportation from Australia can lead to a three-year ban on returning to the country, although that may be waived, depending on the circumstances.
Hawke said he cancelled the visa on “health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so.” His statement added that Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government “is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Morrison himself welcomed Djokovic’s pending deportation. The whole episode has touched a nerve in Australia, and particularly in Victoria state, where locals went through hundreds of days of lockdowns during the worst of the pandemic and there is a vaccination rate among adults of more than 90 per cent.
Australia is currently facing a massive surge in virus cases driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant. On Friday, the nation reported 130,000 new cases, including nearly 35,000 in Victoria state. Although many infected people aren’t getting as sick as they did in previous outbreaks, the surge is still putting severe strain on the health system, with more than 4,400 people hospitalized. It’s also causing disruptions to workplaces and supply chains.
“This pandemic has been incredibly difficult for every Australian but we have stuck together and saved lives and livelihoods. … Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected,” Morrison said in a statement. “This is what the Minister is doing in taking this action today.”
Everyone at the Australian Open — including players, their support teams and spectators — is required to be vaccinated for the illness caused by the coronavirus. Djokovic is not inoculated and had sought a medical exemption on the grounds that he had COVID-19 in December.
That exemption was approved by the Victoria state government and Tennis Australia, apparently allowing him to obtain a visa to travel. But the Australian Border Force rejected the exemption and cancelled his visa when he landed in Melbourne on Jan. 5.
Djokovic spent four nights in an immigration detention hotel before a judge on Monday overturned that decision. That ruling allowed Djokovic to move freely around Australia and he has been practising at Melbourne Park daily to prepare to play in a tournament he has won each of the past three years.
He had a practice session originally scheduled for mid-afternoon Friday at Rod Laver Arena, the tournament’s main stadium, but pushed that to the morning and was finished several hours before Hawke’s decision was announced in the early evening.
‘It’s not a good situation for anyone’
After the visa cancellation from Hawke, media started gathering outside the building where Djokovic reportedly was meeting with his lawyers.
An Australian Open spokesperson said tournament organizers did not have any immediate comment on the latest development in Djokovic’s situation, which has overshadowed all other story lines heading into the year’s first Grand Slam event.
“It’s not a good situation for anyone,” said Andy Murray, a three-time Grand Slam champion and five-time runner-up at the Australian Open. “Just want it obviously to get resolved. I think it would be good for everyone if that was the case. It just seems like it’s dragged on for quite a long time now — not great for the tennis, not great for the Australian Open, not great for Novak.”
Tennis Australia announced that nine players would hold pre-tournament news conferences Saturday, and Djokovic’s name was not on the list.
With his legal situation still in limbo, Djokovic was placed in the tournament bracket in Thursday’s draw, slated to face Miomir Kecmanovic in an all-Serbian matchup in the first round.
According to Grand Slam rules, if Djokovic is forced to pull out of the tournament before the order of play for Day 1 is announced, No. 5 seed Andrey Rublev would move into Djokovic’s spot in the bracket and face Kecmanovic.
If Djokovic withdraws from the tournament after Monday’s schedule is released, he would be replaced in the field by what’s known as a “lucky loser” — a player who loses in the qualifying tournament but gets into the main draw because of another player’s exit before competition has started.
And if Djokovic plays in a match — or more — and then is told he can no longer participate in the tournament, his next opponent would simply advance to the following round and there would be no replacement.
Djokovic’s legal team hamstrung, says lawyer
Melbourne-based immigration lawyer Kian Bone said Djokovic’s lawyers face an “extremely difficult” task to get court orders over the weekend to allow their client to play next week.
Speaking hours before Hawke’s decision was announced, Bone said: “If you left it any later than he has done now, I think from a strategic standpoint, he’s really hamstringing Djokovic’s legal team, in terms of what sort of options or remedies he could obtain.”
Djokovic’s lawyers would need to go before a duty judge of the Federal Circuit and Family Court, or a higher judge of the Federal Court, to get two urgent orders. One order would be an injunction preventing his deportation, such as what he won in court last week.
The second would force Hawke to grant Djokovic a visa to play.
“That second order is almost not precedented,” Bone said. “Very rarely do the courts order a member of the executive government to grant a visa.”
Chiefs’ Tyrann Mathieu suffers concussion on opening drive vs. Bills – Sportsnet.ca
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu has been ruled out for the remainder of Sunday’s divisional-round game against the Buffalo Bills after suffering a concussion while trying to make a tackle on the opening drive.
The Chiefs had held the Bills to fourth-and-2 at midfield when Allen took off on a designed run. Mathieu went low trying to tackle the 240-pound quarterback and his helmet collided with the knee of teammate Jarran Reed.
Mathieu was checked briefly in the blue sideline tent before he was taken to the locker room.
Allen converted that fourth-down run, then the Bills converted again on fourth-and-goal at the Kansas City 1 to take a 7-0 lead in a rematch of last year’s AFC title game won by the Chiefs.
Beijing introduces more COVID measures as cases mount before Olympics
Beijing‘s city government on Sunday introduced new measures to contain a recent outbreak of COVID-19, as China’s capital continued to report new local cases of the virus less than two weeks before it hosts the Winter Olympic Games.
Nine locally transmitted cases were found in Beijing on Jan. 22, the National Health Commission said on Sunday, of which six were in the city’s Fengtai district.
Fengtai will organise nucleic acid tests for COVID-19 for all of its residents on Sunday, district health authorities said.
Authorities have asked residents of “risky areas,” including a neighbourhood of Fengtai, to not leave the city, a local government spokesman said at a Sunday news conference, adding that Fengtai residents have been asked to avoid mass gatherings.
Beijing city has also asked residents to proactively conduct nucleic acid tests if they find themselves with COVID-19-like symptoms within 14 days of receiving any deliveries from overseas, local authorities said in a statement dated Saturday.
Authorities have suggested Beijing’s first case of the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus could have arrived via a package from Canada.
In Fengtai, some kindergartens have told parents that children who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 will not be able to attend, two parents told Reuters.
Reuters could not determine whether the requirement is a government regulation or the kindergartens’ own rules.
A mother surnamed Wang, whose child attends at a private kindergarten in Fengtai, said a teacher told her on Friday that unvaccinated children will not be allowed to return from Monday citing new government regulations, without providing Wang any official documents.
“This is not on a voluntary basis. This is coercion,” Wang told Reuters. She said she has filed a complaint with authorities in the hope of having the requirement removed.
Reuters could not reach local authorities for comment on a non-business day.
Mainland China reported 56 new COVID-19 cases on Jan. 22, down from 63 a day earlier, the National Health Commission said.
Of the new cases, 19 were locally transmitted, versus 23 a day earlier, it said.
The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to 34 from 43.
There were no new fatalities, leaving the death toll at 4,636.
As of Jan. 22, mainland China had confirmed 105,603 cases.
(Reporting by Yingzhi Yang, Roxanne Liu, Jing Xu and Ryan Woo in Beijing; Editing by William Mallard and Christopher Cushing)
ECHL's Jacksonville Icemen release Jacob Panetta after Jordan Subban calls out racist gesture – The Athletic
The ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen released defenseman Jacob Panetta on Sunday after South Carolina Stingrays defenseman Jordan Subban said he was subjected to a racist gesture during Saturday’s game. The league suspended Panetta indefinitely, pending a hearing under the league’s collective bargaining agreement.
Later Sunday, Panetta released a response on Twitter, tagging Subban and captioning the video, “racism has no place in this world and no place in the game we love.” He said the gesture he made toward Subban was a “tough-guy, bodybuilder-like” one during a confrontation on the ice. He also said he’s made the same gesture to “non-racialized players a number of times” in his career.
Subban said Panetta made monkey gestures in his direction. His brother, New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban, later tweeted a video of the incident, which occurred 23 seconds into overtime.
“More like (Panetta) was too much of a coward to fight me and as soon as I began to turn my back he started making monkey gestures at me so I punched him in the face multiple times and he turtled like the coward he is,” Jordan Subban tweeted after the game.
In his video, Panetta said “no racist slurs, noises, or anything of the like, were said by me during the incident.” While he said there were no racial intentions behind the gesture, Panetta apologized for the “pain and suffering and anger my actions have caused him, his family, and everyone that was hurt by this.”
“I acknowledge the impact of my gesture and will commit to better understand the impact going forward,” Panetta said. “Those who know me understand (it) was not intended to be racial, it is not who I am, it is not how I have been raised.
“But at the same time, I need to and I will learn from this. Racism and other forms of discrimination have no place in society, including hockey. I believed that before, and I still believe that now.”
Panetta’s release is “effective immediately” and the investigation is still ongoing at the league level, Jacksonville said in a statement.
South Carolina president Rob Concannon said the club is “disgusted and appalled” by Saturday’s incident.
“Our organization stands in support of our friend and teammate, Jordan, as well as the other players who continue to deal with racism and discrimination. This behavior has to stop and is unacceptable.”
The NHL also issued a statement Sunday, saying it “will continue to make its resources available to the hockey ecosystem to educate and inform, with the goal of making the game welcoming and safe for all players and fans.”
“Incidents of racism, whether they occur in hockey or anywhere else, are abhorrent,” the league said.
Later Sunday, the Devils released a statement backing the Subbans. “We stand in support of Jordan, P.K., the Subban family and anyone who has experienced discrimination within our sport,” team said. “This week’s racist acts within the hockey community are unacceptable and have no place in the game or anywhere.”
(Photo: Brett Carlsen / Getty Images)
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