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Australian court starts considering Djokovic visa verdict

Djokovic is clinging on to hopes playing in the Australian Open which begins on Monday

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Australian court starts considering Djokovic visa verdict
GNN Media: Representational Photo

Melbourne: Novak Djokovic could find out later on Sunday if he can defend his Australian Open title after the Chief Justice of the Federal Court said he hoped to release a decision later in the day on whether the tennis star, who has not been vaccinated against the coronavirus, can stay in the country.

Djokovic is appealing Immigration Minister Alex Hawke's use of discretionary powers to cancel his visa on the grounds that he was a threat to public order because his presence would encourage anti-vaccination sentiment amidst Australia's worst outbreak of the virus.

"We would hope to be in a position to identify to the parties later in the afternoon what the course is that we propose," Chief Justice James Allsop told the court as he adjourned the case after hearing from lawyers for the government and the champion tennis player.

The looming verdict of the full bench of three judges of the Federal Court will decide the fate of the world number one tennis player after a rollercoaster 10 days that saw him detained by immigration authorities, released and then detained again ahead of a tournament that starts on Monday.

The Serbian champion was escorted to his lawyers office by immigration officials to attend the virtual court hearing on Sunday morning, having spent Saturday night back in an immigration detention hotel.

Nick Wood, acting for Djokovic, pointed to how the player competed in the Australian Open and other major tournaments around the world last year without provoking protests or unrest.

"If there was any foundation for thinking that Mr Djokovic's presence and participation at a tennis tournament might somehow lead to this anti-vax sentiment, one would expect that it would be supported by some kind of evidence about anti-vax protests or rallies or the like at tennis events," Wood said.

But Wood told the court that nothing of the kind had been identified by the minister in his decision to cancel the visa.

Wood said that instead the possibility was a forced removal of Djokovic may spur the anti-vaccination movement and protests.

Stephen Lloyd, for the government, said Djokovic's opposition to vaccination could be seen not only in his public statements but also because he had not been vaccinated against COVID-19 even after vaccines became widely available.

The government lawyer acknowledged that there was a risk that cancelling Djokovic's visa could spark "unrest" among people who disagreed.

But, Lloyd argued that given Djokovic's status as a high-profile athlete, there was a danger that his stance and behaviour could encourage others outside the established anti-vaccination community to flout health safety guidelines.

"The minister took the view that his presence in Australia would encourage people to emulate his apparent disregard for those kind of safety measures," Lloyd said.

He cited Djokovic's participation in a media interview and photoshoot when he knew he was infected with COVID-19 last month.

Djokovic had been granted a visa, as his recent infection provided the basis for him seeking a medical exemption from Australia's vaccination requirements to play in the Open.

That exemption prompted widespread anger in Australia, which has undergone some the world's toughest COVID-19 lockdowns and where more than 90% of adults are vaccinated.

'TIRED OF THE SITUATION'

Djokovic is clinging on to hopes playing in the Australian Open which begins on Monday. If he were to win the tournament, which he has done nine times previously, he would become the first men's player to hold 21 Grand Slam titles.

The build up to the tournament has been eclipsed by the drama over the unvaccinated star's bid to play. Spanish great Rafael Nadal, tied with Djokovic for 20 Grand Slam titles, was one of several top players in town who said they just wanted the circus to be over. 

Djokovic spent Saturday night at Melbourne's Park Hotel, returning to the same immigration detention hotel where he was held for several nights after his arrival in Australia.

A judge had freed him on Monday after finding the decision to cancel his visa on arrival had been unreasonable.

The controversy has become a political touchstone for Prime Minister Scott Morrison as he prepares for an election due by May.

His government has won support at home for its tough stance on border security during the pandemic, but it has faced criticism for its handling of Djokovic's visa application.

Djokovic's leading rivals have become increasingly impatient with the uncertainty hanging over the draw and the cloud hanging over their sport.

"Honestly I'm little bit tired of the situation because I just believe that it's important to talk about our sport, about tennis," Nadal, who is tied on 20 major titles with Djokovic, told reporters at Melbourne Park on Saturday, where the event will be played.

SOURCE: Reuters

Siddra Sumreen

Syeda Siddra has been working as a web journalist for over the past seven years. She earned her M.Phil degree in Mass Communication from the Lahore Leads University. Ms. Siddra has previously worked with other renowned channels and is now associated with GNN as Senior Content Writer.

Pakistan

Court extends interim bail of PM Shehbaz, Humza Shehbaz till June 4

The court allowed PM Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz to leave.

Published by Siddra Sumreen

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Court extends interim bail of PM Shehbaz, Humza Shehbaz till June 4

Lahore: A special court in Lahore extended on Saturday the interim bail of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz until June 4 in the hearing of a Rs16 billion money laundering case against them.

According to details, a special court conducted a hearing of a money laundering case against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Chief Minister Punjab Hamza Shehbaz.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz were present in the courtroom during the hearing.

Judge Ijaz Hassan Awan expressed resentment over the FIA's investigation officer’s report about arrest warrants of absconding accused Salman Shehbaz, Malik Maqsood and Tahir Naqvi.

The judge remarked that a report was submitted an year ago about sending notices to the accused to their addresses. Now, the report said that accused were not found at their concerned address. “Which of the reports to be believed”, he questioned.

Shehbaz Sharif’s counsel Amjad Pervaiz argued that the facts are wrong in the challan. The cases were made by using government machinery, the prosecution was aware that these could not be proved in the court, the counsel said.

The court allowed PM Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz to leave.

The counsel also argued over a plea for a permanent exemption to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in the case.

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World

Superyacht catches fire in British marina

No loss of life or injury was reported in the blaze

Published by Faisal Ali Ghumman

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Superyacht catches fire in British marina

Fire ripped through a superyacht in southwest England on Saturday, sending thick plumes of black smoke into the sky and briefly releasing the burning vessel to drift across its marina.

Police and fire officials said the 85 foot (26 metre) yacht in Torquay, Devon, was "well alight" and the fire brigade said the vessel contained about 8,000 litres of diesel fuel, prompting local areas and nearby beaches to be cleared.

"Due to levels of smoke and fumes we are asking residents in the area to keep their doors and windows shut at this time," Devon & Cornwall police said. "Members of the public are also urged to avoid the area and beaches are being cleared by officers for public safety."

The police said no one had been injured in the fire and the yacht had since been secured after it broke free from its mooring. The police did not say who owned the yacht.

SOURCE: REUTERS

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Pakistan

PM Shehbaz Sharif resolves to transform Pakistan into an economic power

"We are resolved to turn it into an economic power"

Published by Siddra Sumreen

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PM Shehbaz Sharif resolves to transform Pakistan into an economic power

Islamabad: Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday reiterated his resolve to transform Pakistan into ‘an economic power’.

On his Twitter handle, the prime minister referring to Youm-e-Takbir, being celebrated today in the country, said in the year 1998, the then prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, in a bold show of leadership, rejected all the pressures and inducements and made Pakistan a nuclear power.

“Today in 1998, PM Nawaz Sharif rejected pressures & inducements in a bold show of leadership & made Pakistan nuclear power of the world. Now we are resolved to turn it into an economic power. My gratitude to all those who helped make our defense invincible. Youm-e-Takbir Mubarak,” he said in a tweet.

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