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Australia again arrests tennis superstar Novak Djokovic

This is second attempt by Australia government to deport him

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Australia again arrests tennis superstar Novak Djokovic
GNN Media: Representational Photo

Sydney: Novak Djokovic was again detained in Australia Saturday, after authorities ripped up his visa for a second time and declared the unvaccinated tennis superstar a threat to the public.

Court documents showed the 34-year-old Serbian was currently being detained at an address in Melbourne, as his appeal against deportation is heard.

Just two days before the Australian Open begins, the world number one is again focused on law courts rather than centre court in the latest twist in a high-profile row over his Covid-19 vaccine status.

Immigration minister Alex Hawke now claims Djokovic’s continued presence in the country could “foster anti-vaccination sentiment” and even spark an “increase in civil unrest”.

Djokovic was summoned to appear before immigration officials in Melbourne ahead of emergency Federal Court hearings on Saturday and Sunday.

He was allowed to follow court proceedings from an address — believed to be his lawyers’ offices — under guard of two Australian Border Force officers.

This is the second attempt by Australia’s conservative government to deport Djokovic, one of the world’s most high-profile Covid-19 vaccine skeptics.

The 34-year-old Serbian used a medical exemption to enter Australia earlier this month, hoping to challenge for a record 21st Grand Slam title at the Open.

Amid public outcry, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government revoked Djokovic’s visa on arrival.

Many Australians — who have suffered prolonged lockdowns and border restrictions — believe Djokovic gamed the system to dodge vaccine entry requirements.

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.

The government argues that Djokovic’s presence is a threat to public health and order, particularly as Australia suffers a tidal wave of Omicron infections.

His continued presence in the country “may pose a health risk to the Australian community” by solidifying anti-vaccine sentiment and discouraging people from getting boosters, immigration minister Hawke argued, according to a court filing released Saturday.

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.

‘Health and good order’

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 infection was confirmed.

In a statement, Hawke said the government was “firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic”, citing “health and good order grounds” for the decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa once again.

The minister said “it was in the public interest to do so”.

The government has agreed not to deport Djokovic until the hearing is over, barrister Stephen Lloyd told an emergency late-night federal court session Friday.

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.

It is unclear if Djokovic will choose to stay and fight the case if he believes he is unable to compete in the Australian Open.

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!”

‘In the public interest’

Prime Minister Morrison backed the decision, saying: “Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected.”

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.

Former world number one Andy Murray, who will play at the Open, said Friday he hoped Djokovic’s status would be cleared up.

“It just seems like it’s dragged on for quite a long time now and (it’s) not great for the tennis, not great for the Australian Open, not great for Novak,” Murray said.

Other players, including world number four Stefanos Tsitsipas, have criticised Djokovic.

“For sure he has been playing by his own rules,” Tsitsipas told Indian broadcaster WION on Thursday.

SOURCE: AFP

Sports

Commonwealth Games: Pakistan’s Arshad Nadeem wins javelin gold 

This is the second gold for Pakistan in Commonwealth Games 2022. 

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Commonwealth Games: Pakistan’s Arshad Nadeem wins javelin gold 

Pakistan’s ace Javelin thrower Nadeem bagged gold in Commonwealth Games Javelin with record throw of 90.18 meters. The Olympian’s throw was also the games' record—registered in his fifth attempt. 

In the ongoing Commonwealth Games at Birmingham, Pakistan's Arshad Nadeem has won gold medal in the Javelin throw competition with a monstrous throw of 90.18 meters.

During the first round of the javelin throw final, the athlete created a record through an 86.81-metre throw. However, in the fifth attempt, Nadeem set a new CWG record of 90.18m throw—becoming first Pakistani to hold the record.

This is the second gold for Pakistan in Commonwealth Games 2022. 

Previously, Arshad had a career-best throw of 86.38, which he pulled off during the Imam Reza Cup held in Mashhad Iran, in 2021.

Earlier, weightlifter Nooh Dastagir Butt had won the gold medal for Pakistan in the Commonwealth Games 2022 with a record lift of 405 kilogram.

Pakistani athletes have complained of not receiving enough support from sports authorities in the form of training and infrastructure, yet have continued to perform impressively in global tournaments. 

Last month, Arshad Nadeem became the first Pakistani to secure the fifth position in the men’s javelin competition at the World Athletics Championship held in the United States. 

Nadeem's exceptional performance brought Pakistan’s medals tally in the ongoing games to eight.

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Technology

Musk challenges Twitter CEO to public debate on bots

"Let him prove to the public that Twitter has <5% fake or spam daily users"

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Musk challenges Twitter CEO to public debate on bots

California: Elon Musk on Saturday challenged Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) Chief Executive Officer Parag Agrawal to a public debate about the percentage of bots on the social media platform.

"Let him prove to the public that Twitter has <5% fake or spam daily users!" Musk said in a tweet.

He also started a poll asking users whether less than 5% of Twitter daily users are fake/spam.

Twitter on Thursday dismissed a claim by Musk that he was hoodwinked into signing a $44 billion agreement to buy the company.

Musk filed a countersuit against Twitter on July 29, escalating his legal fight against the company over his bid to walk away from the purchase agreement.

Earlier on Saturday, Musk said that if Twitter could provide its method of sampling 100 accounts and how it confirmed that the accounts are real, his deal to buy the company should proceed on its original terms.

SOURCE: Reuters

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World

Any attack on a nuclear plant ‘suicidal’: UN Chief 

At a press conference in Tokyo, Guterres condemned such attacks without saying either side was responsible.

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Any attack on a nuclear plant ‘suicidal’: UN Chief 

Any attack on a nuclear plant is “suicidal”, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Monday after fresh shelling hit a huge atomic power complex in southern Ukraine.

Moscow and Kyiv blame each other for the latest strike at the Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe’s largest nuclear power site, which has been under Russian control since the early days of the war.

The fighting on Friday at the plant has prompted the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to warn of “the very real risk of a nuclear disaster”.

At a press conference in Tokyo, Guterres condemned such attacks without saying either side was responsible.

“We support the IAEA on their efforts in relation to create the conditions of stabilisation of that plant,” he said.

“Any attack to a nuclear plant is a suicidal thing. I hope that those attacks will end, and at the same time I hope that the IAEA will be able to access the plant.”

His comments followed a visit to Hiroshima over the weekend, where Guterres gave a speech to mark the 77th anniversary of the world’s first nuclear bomb attack.

In the Japanese city on Saturday, he warned that “humanity is playing with a loaded gun” as crises with the potential for nuclear disaster proliferate worldwide, from Ukraine to the Middle East and the Korean peninsula.

The Portuguese 73-year-old also delivered a stark warning against the horrors of atomic weapons a week ago in New York at a key nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty conference, which he reiterated on Monday.

“We are witnessing a radicalisation in the geopolitical situation that makes the risk of a nuclear war again something we cannot completely forget,” he said.

When asked about China’s massive military exercises around Taiwan, sparked by a visit last week to the self-ruled island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Guterres said the UN “abides by a resolution of the General Assembly, the so-called One China policy”.

“But we all want that resolution to correspond to a peaceful environment,” he said, calling for common sense and restraint to allow for an “extremely important” de-escalation.

SOURCE: AFP

 

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