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Djokovic warms up for Australian Open amid deportation threat

The tennis star finally reaches the tennis court after a judge on Monday quashed the federal government's decision to cancel his visa

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Djokovic warms up for Australian Open amid  deportation threat
GNN Media: Representational Photo

Novak Djokovic on Tuesday warmed up for his bid to win a record 21st Grand Slam title at next week's Australian Open, hitting practice shots at Melbourne Park, but he still faces the threat of deportation.

A week after his arrival in Australia, Djokovic finally reached the tennis court after a judge on Monday quashed the federal government's decision to cancel his visa.

But the world number one could still be detained by the federal government for a second time and deported. Immigration Minister Alex Hawke's office said he was considering whether to use his discretionary power to cancel Djokovic's visa.

Australia has a policy barring non-citizens or non-residents from entry unless they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. It allows for medical exemptions but the government argued that Djokovic, who is not vaccinated, did not provide adequate justification for an exemption.

The court ruled Djokovic was treated unfairly by officials on his arrival and ordered his visa cancellation be overturned. It did not, however, address whether his exemption - based on Djokovic contracting COVID-19 last month - was valid.

Djokovic's case provoked a row between Canberra and Belgrade and fuelled heated debate over mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies.

Public opinion in Australia, which is battling an Omicron wave of infections and where more than 90% of the adult population is double vaccinated, has been largely against the player.

Melbourne endured the world's longest coronavirus lockdown and Victoria state has Australia's highest number of COVID-19 deaths.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison's office said he spoke with Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic on Monday and explained Australia's non-discriminatory border policy.

In an interview with Reuters, Brnabic said she felt neither optimistic or pessimistic over to whether Djokovic would be allowed to compete but hoped for a final decision soon.

"Uncertainty is not good for any of the stakeholders, neither Djokovic nor the Australian Open," she said.

The ATP, the governing body of men's tennis, applauded the court ruling, saying the dispute was "damaging on all fronts."

Djokovic, who expressed his gratitude to the judge and his determination to compete at the first major of the year in a Twitter post on Monday, did not publicly address the situation on Tuesday.

He was filmed by media helicopters practicing at Rod Laver Arena amid tight security at Melbourne Park. He was also confirmed as top seed for the event.

OPPOSITION TO VACCINATION

Djokovic was detained when he landed at Melbourne airport last Wednesday. His visa was cancelled because he failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet entry requirements, border officials said.

However, in quashing that decision, Judge Anthony Kelly was critical of the hours-long airport interview and said the player had not been given enough time to contact lawyers and tennis officials to discuss his predicament.

Djokovic had been granted a medical exemption by the Victoria state government based on evidence he contracted COVID-19 last month - the second time he had been infected. The player, who has long opposed mandatory vaccination, confirmed during the interview he was unvaccinated.

Some Australian media reported that Australian Border Force was investigating potential discrepancies in the traveller form submitted by Djokovic and his whereabouts in the days before he arrived in Australia.

In the document submitted to court Djokovic ticked "no" when asked he had been overseas in the 14 days prior. Social media posts, however, appeared to show him in Belgrade on Christmas Day and in Spain on Dec. 31.

In Madrid, Spain's foreign minister said he had no information on whether Djokovic had visited Spain in December before travelling to Australia.

"We have not been contacted by the Australian government to request such documentation," Minister Jose Manuel Albares also said.

The Australian Border Force did not reply to a request for comment. Djokovic's lawyers at Hall & Wilcox declined to comment.

FAIREST DECISION, SAYS RAFA

The Australian Open begins on Jan. 17. Djokovic has won the tournament, one of four tennis Grand Slams, for the past three years and nine times in all.

Spain's Rafa Nadal, who is tied on 20 majors with Djokovic and Switzerland's Roger Federer, called the fraught build-up to the tournament a "circus" and said the "fairest decision" had been made.

Nick Kyrgios said while he supported vaccination he felt "embarrassed as an Australian athlete, seeing what this guy has done for us and the sport".

However, former American player turned pundit Pam Shriver warned on Twitter the controversy may not be over: "If he plays the booing will be deafening."

Melbourne resident Keith Moore told Reuters: "We've had to go through vaccination protocols and lockdowns for such a long time and he swans in and pretty much does what he likes because he's the world best tennis player."

SOURCE: REUTERS

 
 

Faisal Ali Ghumman

Mr. Ghumman is a seasoned journalist who has 19 years of diversified experience in print, electronic and digital media. He has worked with 92 News HD, Daily Pakistan Today, Daily The Business, Daily Dawn, Daily Times and Pakistan Observer as News Reporter, Feature Writer, Editor, Web Content Editor and Article Writer. Mr Ghumman has graduated from the Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan and is currently enrolled in M.Phil in Mass Communication at the University of Punjab.

Pakistan

Educational institutions with COVID high positivity to be closed for one week

Data suggests a strong correlation between vaccination levels and infection rate in various cities

Published by Faisal Waqas

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Educational institutions with COVID high positivity to be closed for one week

Islamabad: The National Command and Operations Center (NCOC) has decided to close educational institutions with COVID-19 high positivity for one week.

According to the reports, COVID testing in education institutes was carried out in major Omicron hit cities to ascertain disease spread among students and ensure accurate disease mapping.

Data suggests a strong correlation between vaccination levels and infection rate in various cities. In this regard, the NCOC decided that aggressive testing in education institutes will be conducted for next two weeks especially in high disease prevalence cities. 

Following to the COVID-19 cases, education institutions or specific classes with high positivity will be closed for one week. “Provincial Administration in consultation with District Health, Education Authorities and School Administrations to set a threshold of cases for deciding such closures,” it added.  

The NCOC further decided that the federating units to carry out special vaccination drives in schools to ensure 100 per cent vaccination of students over 12 years of age.

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Regional

School sealed in Bani Gala after reported coronavirus cases

Not only the students but some teachers too had tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting the authorities to seal the school

Published by Faisal Waqas

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School sealed in Bani Gala after reported coronavirus cases

Islamabad: Another school in Islamabad’s Bani Gala area was sealed on Friday after reported cases of the coronavirus.

According to reports, not only the students but some teachers too had tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting the authorities to seal the school.

It is pertinent to mention here that 17 educational institutions have been sealed in Islamabad ever since their reopening following drop in the cases of the pandemic.

A day ealriler, following to spike in coroanviurs cases, two more educational institutions had been sealed following the detection of Covid-19 cases in the Islamabad.

According to the reports, overall 20 cases had been reported in a private university’s Islamabad campus and three Corona cases in a private school’s Soan Garden branch.

In a letter to the deputy commissioner, the district health officer (DHO) Islamabad issued directives to seal the two educational institutions.

Directions have been issued to seal the educational institution till further orders besides initiating a contact tracing and testing.

On the other hand, the National Command and Operations Center (NCOC) has decided to close educational institutions with COVID-19 high positivity for one week.

According to the reports, COVID testing in education institutes was carried out in major Omicron hit cities to ascertain disease spread among students and ensure accurate disease mapping.

Data suggests a strong correlation between vaccination levels and infection rate in various cities. In this regard, the NCOC decided that aggressive testing in education institutes will be conducted for next two weeks especially in high disease prevalence cities. 

Following to the COVID-19 cases, education institutions or specific classes with high positivity will be closed for one week. “Provincial Administration in consultation with District Health, Education Authorities and School Administrations to set a threshold of cases for deciding such closures,” it added.  

The NCOC further decided that the federating units to carry out special vaccination drives in schools to ensure 100 per cent vaccination of students over 12 years of age.

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Entertainment

Next two 'Mission: Impossible' movies starring Tom Cruise delayed until 2023, 2024

The new dates for the films are July 14, 2023, for the seventh installment, and June 28, 2024, for the eighth movie in the series

Published by Faisal Ali Ghumman

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Next two 'Mission: Impossible' movies starring Tom Cruise delayed until 2023, 2024

The seventh and eighth movies in the "Mission: Impossible" franchise starring Tom Cruise have been delayed until 2023 and 2024 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, producers Paramount Pictures and Skydance said in a statement on Friday.

"Mission: Impossible 7" had been scheduled to debut in movie theaters in September 2022, followed by "Mission: Impossible 8" in July 2023.

The new dates for the films are July 14, 2023, for the seventh installment, and June 28, 2024, for the eighth movie in the series.

"After thoughtful consideration, Paramount Pictures and Skydance have decided to postpone the release dates for Mission: Impossible 7 & 8 in response to delays due to the ongoing pandemic," the companies said in a statement.

Theater chains, including AMC Entertainment and Cinemark Holdings Inc, are still trying to recover from extended closures during the pandemic.

SOURCE: REUTERS

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