The end of the Novak Djokovic saga is set to be settled on Sunday after a procedural hearing began.

Djokovic, who returned to detention on Saturday as per a pre-agreed court arrangement, is fighting to be able to compete at the Australian Open, which starts on Monday.

A procedural hearing, where the matter was formally transferred from the Federal Circuit Court to the Federal Court of Australia, started at 09:30 local time (22:30 GMT).

Djokovic's lawyers secured an early procedural victory when it was decided the case should be heard by a full court, consisting of Chief Justice James Allsop, Justice Anthony Besanko and Justice David O'Callaghan.

That reduces the avenues for any possible appeal against the court's decision. Stephen Lloyd, who was appearing on behalf of immigration minister Alex Hawke, had indicated his preference for a single judge.

A central tenet of the case is set to be Hawke's assertion that Djokovic should be removed from the country "on health and good order grounds" and "in the public interest".

 

In submissions to the court issued by Djokovic's lawyers, Hawke is shown to say that he accepted the world number one recently tested positive for COVID-19.

However, Hawke adds that: "I am concerned that his presence in Australia, given his well-known stance on vaccination, creates a risk of strengthening the anti-vaccination sentiment of a minority of the Australian community."

The nine-time Australian Open champion's visa was revoked for a second time on Friday despite Djokovic winning his initial case last Monday.

His lawyers began their argument shortly after the hearing started, with Chief Justice Allsop having suggested that due to quality of the written submissions, both side's arguments would be heard by lunchtime local time.

The end of the Novak Djokovic saga is set to be settled on Sunday after a procedural hearing began in Melbourne.

Djokovic, who returned to detention on Saturday as per a pre-agreed court arrangement, is fighting to be able to compete at the Australian Open, which starts on Monday.

A procedural hearing, where the matter was formally transferred from the Federal Circuit Court to the Federal Court of Australia, started at 09:30 local time (22:30 GMT).

Djokovic's lawyers secured an early procedural victory when it was decided the case should be heard by a full court, consisting of Chief Justice James Allsop, Justice Anthony Besanko and Justice David O'Callaghan.

That reduces the avenues for any possible appeal against the court's decision. Stephen Lloyd, who was appearing on behalf of immigration minister Alex Hawke, had indicated his preference for a single judge.

A central tenet of the case is set to be Hawke's assertion that Djokovic should be removed from the country "on health and good order grounds" and "in the public interest".

 

In submissions to the court issued by Djokovic's lawyers, Hawke is shown to say that he accepted the world number one recently tested positive for COVID-19.

However, Hawke adds that: "I am concerned that his presence in Australia, given his well-known stance on vaccination, creates a risk of strengthening the anti-vaccination sentiment of a minority of the Australian community."

The nine-time Australian Open champion's visa was revoked for a second time on Friday despite Djokovic winning his initial case last Monday.

His lawyers began their argument shortly after the hearing started, with Chief Justice Allsop having suggested that due to quality of the written submissions, both side's arguments would be heard by lunchtime local time.

Novak Djokovic was back in detention on Saturday night as he awaited decision day in his battle to play at the Australian Open.

The end of the saga should come on Sunday when Djokovic's lawyers attempt to prevent the Serbian being deported.

A procedural hearing, where the matter was formally transferred from the Federal Circuit Court to the Federal Court of Australia, saw an 09:30 AEDT (Saturday 22:30 GMT) start to the case agreed upon.

Djokovic's lawyers secured an early procedural victory when it was decided the case should be heard by a full court, consisting of Chief Justice James Allsop, Justice Anthony Besanko and Justice David O’Callaghan.

That reduces the avenues for any possible appeal against the court's decision. Stephen Lloyd, who was appearing on behalf of immigration minister Alex Hawke, had indicated his preference for a single judge.

A central tenet of the case is set to be Hawke's assertion that Djokovic should be removed from the country "on health and good order grounds" and "in the public interest".

In submissions to the court issued by Djokovic's lawyers, Hawke is shown to say that he accepted the world number one recently tested positive for COVID-19.

However, Hawke adds that: "I am concerned that his presence in Australia, given his well-known stance on vaccination, creates a risk of strengthening the anti-vaccination sentiment of a minority of the Australian community."

The nine-time Australian Open champion's visa was revoked for a second time on Friday despite Djokovic winning his initial case on Monday.

His lawyers will dispute the minister's claims and push for Djokovic to be freed from detention to be able to defend his title at Melbourne Park.

In their application to the court, Djokovic's legal team state: "There was no evidence before the respondent that Mr Djokovic had made any comments about his vaccination status or expressed any 'views' regarding vaccination at any time during which he has been in Australia (on this occasion or previous occasions) or at any other time in any other location (post April 2020)."

For Djokovic, lawyer Nick Wood said on Friday that his client was of "negligible risk", "of good standing" and had a medical contraindication to a vaccine.

The Australian Open starts on Monday, when Djokovic hopes to begin his journey to what could be a 10th Melbourne slam and a record-breaking 21st major title.

Djokovic is scheduled to face countryman Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round.

Twenty-time major winner Rafael Nadal says he is tired of the Novak Djokovic saga ahead of the Australian Open and insists the event will be "great" with or without him.

Sixth seed Nadal is preparing to take on American Miguel Giron in the Australian Open first round on Monday but preparations have been hijacked by Djokovic's ongoing visa status.

The world number one had his visa cancelled by the Australian Immigration Minister on Friday with an appeal to be held on Sunday.

The situation has dragged on for the past week, with Nadal admitting he was tired of the narrative and that no one player is bigger than the Australian Open.

"I tell you one thing, it's very clear that Novak Djokovic is one of the best players of the history, but there is no one player in history that's more important than an event," Nadal told reporters on Saturday.

"[The] Australian Open is much more important than any player. If he's playing finally, OK.

"If he's not playing, [the] Australian Open will be great, with or without him. That's my point of view."

World number six Nadal, who has only won the Australian Open title once in 2009, said he hoped focus would return to the upcoming tournament where he is aiming for a record-breaking 21st slam.

"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 said.

The Spaniard added that he respected Djokovic and has a "good relationship" with him despite their differences.

"I wish him all the best. I really respect him, even if I [do] not agree with a lot of things that he did the last couple of weeks," he said.

Novak Djokovic's Australian Open fate will be determined on Sunday although it remains to be decided if it will be in front of a full court or single judge.

Saturday's hearing was procedural with Justice David O'Callaghan transferring the matter to the Federal Court of Australia as agreed by both parties' lawyers for a 9:30am AEDT start.

The hearing was adjourned with the only contention that Djokovic's lawyers are in favour of the case being held before more than one judge, meaning no appeal to the full bench is possible.

Stephen Lloyd, who was appearing on behalf of the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, did not agree, with the court expected to make a decision later on Saturday.

“We say there isn’t a justification for stepping out of the ordinary," Lloyd told the court.

Djokovic's visa was revoked for a second time on Friday despite the 34-year-old winning his initial case on Monday.

The Serbian world number one is fighting the decision, and lawyer Nick Wood, on behalf of Djokovic, contended in a directions hearing on Friday evening that the "underlying new rationale" behind the Australian government's latest move to kick out the Serbian is that it contends his presence "will excite anti-vax sentiment".

Wood said immigration minister Alex Hawke had given no consideration to the impact that deporting Djokovic may have among those opposed to COVID-19 vaccines, saying his client was of "negligible risk", "of good standing" and had a medical contraindication to a vaccine.

In a statement released on Friday, Hawke said the decision had been taken "on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so".

The Australian Open is due to commence on Monday where Djokovic was aiming for his 10th Melbourne slam. Djokovic was also hoping to challenge for a record-breaking 21st major title.

Djokovic is scheduled to face countryman Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round in Melbourne on Monday.

Andy Murray refused to add to Novak Djokovic's troubles after the Serbian star's visa saga reared up again, insisting he would not "start kicking Novak while he's down".

Some players have been critical of Djokovic, while world number four Stefanos Tsitsipas said the Serbian has been "playing by his own rules" after refusing to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

Djokovic faces a critical Federal Court hearing on Sunday that looks set to determine whether he can play at the Australian Open, which starts the following day.

Although the Serbian arrived in Australia with a medical exemption for the grand slam tournament, which he has won on a record nine occasions, that did not satisfy Border Force officers who last week decided Djokovic did not meet entry requirements.

After four days in detention, Djokovic won a first challenge against the visa decision on Monday and has been able to train at Melbourne Park in the days since; however, he will be returned to detention on Saturday morning in the Victoria state capital after immigration minister Alex Hawke cancelled the visa anew.

Murray said: "It's not a good situation. I'm not going to sit here and start kicking Novak while he's down. It's unfortunate it's ended up in this sort of situation.

"It's just one to get resolved. I think it would be good for everyone if that was the case. It seems like it's dragged on for quite a long time now.

"It's not great for tennis, not great for the Australian Open, not great for Novak, and a lot of people have criticised the government here as well, so it's not been good.

Murray banged his head against a microphone in exasperation as he faced another question on the matter, clearly by now sick of being asked about Djokovic.

The Scot, a former world number one and long-time friend and rival to Djokovic, was asked about the latest developments after coming off court, having just booked his place in the final of an ATP Tour event for the first time since 2019.

Speaking after his semi-final win at the Sydney Classic, Murray said: "I would encourage people to get vaccinated.

"But I do feel like people should be able to make their own decisions. Ultimately, people have to make their own choices, but there is also consequences sometimes for those decisions as well."

Former doubles world number one Rennae Stubbs told Australian broadcaster ABC she expected the story to keep rumbling on.

"It's not over, he's staying in the country, but for the ramifications for the Australian Open, it's huge," Stubbs said.

"It's hard to know, obviously I'm not in his mind, but I would say he's going to be extremely disappointed, very sad, angry. I think he's probably going through all the emotions you can imagine as a human being."

Before the hearing on Sunday was confirmed, Stubbs said: "Unfortunately for Novak, it's not looking good."

Djokovic has been drawn to face fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round in a match that would be expected to take place on Monday or Tuesday.

Although the case of Djokovic has drawn global attention, Australian Stubbs said the single-minded nature of tennis players meant most were "really not concerned about Novak and his dilemmas".

"I think they're ready to get on with this tournament," she said. "I frankly think that most of them are sick and tired of talking about Novak and dealing with this situation in general."

Novak Djokovic's Australian Open fate is set to be determined in a fresh hearing on Sunday – with the defending champion back into detention before that takes place.

In a crushing blow to his preparations for the grand slam, Djokovic learned on Friday that his visa had been revoked for a second time, meaning he faces the prospect of deportation.

The 34-year-old is fighting the decision, and lawyer Nick Wood, on behalf of Djokovic, contended in a directions hearing on Friday evening that the "underlying new rationale" behind the Australian government's latest move to kick out the Serbian is that it contends his presence "will excite anti-vax sentiment".

Wood said immigration minister Alex Hawke had given no consideration to the impact that deporting Djokovic may have among those opposed to COVID-19 vaccines, saying his client was of "negligible risk", "of good standing" and had a medical contraindication to a vaccine.

In a statement released on Friday, Hawke said the decision had been taken "on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so".

Djokovic has expressed opposition to vaccine mandates in the past and has confirmed he has not been vaccinated.

For Djokovic, Wood said: "The minister only considers the potential for exciting anti-vax sentiment in the event that he's present, but the binary alternative of forcibly removing this high profile, legally compliant, negligible risk, medical contraindication player, precluding or impairing his ability to come back to Australia for three years and prejudicing his career, on the basis of two statements made in 2020 and the possible perception of those statements by others; the minister gives no consideration whatsoever to what effect that may have on anti-vax sentiment and indeed on public order. That seems patently irrational."

The case has been transferred from the Federal Circuit Court to the Federal Court of Australia, judge Anthony Kelly said, and will take place via videolink.

An initial hearing will take place with justice David O'Callaghan from the Federal Court on Saturday at 10:15 local time (Friday 23:15 GMT), it was announced.

Whatever happens now, this is woeful preparation for Djokovic ahead of the tournament where he was planning to mount an assault on a 10th Australian Open title, and a record-setting 21st grand slam.

He was cleared to spend Friday night at his current accommodation, rather than be moved immediately back into detention, but that is set to occur on Saturday morning at 08:00 local time in Melbourne when he reports for an interview with immigration officials.

Djokovic will then be allowed to attend meetings with his solicitors in person from 10:00 to 14:00 on Saturday, accompanied by Border Force officials, before returning to a detention hotel until he is reunited with his solicitors from 09:00 on Sunday.

To avoid possible disorder on the streets, he is set to meet his legal team away from their Melbourne offices, where fans gathered and unruly behaviour took place following Djokovic's first effort to clear a path to play at the tournament that begins on Monday.

Djokovic will for now be unable to practise at Melbourne Park. His opening match in the Australian Open is due to be scheduled for Monday or Tuesday.

Hawke explained why the visa had been revoked earlier on Friday, saying in a statement: "In making this decision, I carefully considered information provided by the Department of Home Affairs, the Australian Border Force and Mr Djokovic.

"The [Scott] Morrison government is firmly committed to protecting Australia's borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic."

Concerns have been expressed over the 34-year-old Djokovic's whereabouts prior to arriving in the country. Djokovic admitted there was a false declaration on his travel form to enter Australia, after it stated he had not travelled in the two weeks before arriving in the country.

The tennis star, who was seen in Spain earlier this month, put that down to "human error" and accepted breaching isolation rules in December after testing positive for COVID-19.

Real Madrid defender Dani Carvajal will miss the Supercopa de Espana final against Athletic Bilbao in Riyadh on Sunday after testing positive for coronavirus.

Carvajal started the 3-2 semi-final win over fierce rivals Barcelona at King Fahd Stadium, but will not feature in the showpiece at the same venue this weekend.

The LaLiga leaders revealed on Friday that the Spain international had returned a positive COVID-19 test.

Lucas Vazquez replaced Carvajal at the end of normal time in the victory over Barca, which was secured courtesy of Federico Valverde's extra-time strike.

Holders Athletic came from behind to beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 in the second semi-final on Thursday.

World number one Novak Djokovic has had his Australian visa revoked for a second time and now faces being deported from the country.

Djokovic won an appeal on Monday to remain in the country, but immigration minister Alex Hawke used separate powers in Australia's Migration Act to again cancel the visa.

The Serbian must now lodge a fresh legal challenge should he wish to defend his Australian Open title, with the tournament set to begin next Monday. 

Novak Djokovic has had his Australian visa revoked for a second time and now faces being deported from the country.

Novak Djokovic has had his visa cancelled for a second time by the Australian government and faces deportation.

Lionel Messi has revealed that it took him longer than he expected to recover after recently testing positive for COVID-19.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward tested positive for COVID-19 while back home in Argentina during the mid-season break and subsequently missed his team's 4-0 victory over Vannes in the Coupe de France.

However, the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner returned a negative test last week and was set to be available to face Lyon, only for the Ligue 1 leaders to confirm that he would "continue his post-COVID individual recovery protocol for the next few days."

Addressing his 300 million followers on Instagram, Messi issued his appreciation for the support during his recovery, and hopes it will not be long until he returns to action.

He posted: "Good afternoon! As you know I had COVID and I wanted to thank you for all the messages I received and to tell you that it took me longer than I thought to be well, but I have almost recovered, and I am really looking forward to getting back on the pitch. 

"I have been training these days to put myself at 100 per cent, very nice challenges are coming this year and I hope we can meet again very soon. Thanks!!!"

Messi has been directly involved in 10 goals in 16 appearances across all competitions since his switch from Barcelona, scoring six and assisting four. He has created 32 chances for his team-mates, and averaged a goal every 219 minutes.

However, he has only found the net once in 11 Ligue 1 games so far under Mauricio Pochettino.

 

Novak Djokovic put the Australian Open at risk and has made other participants "look like fools" by turning up for the tournament unvaccinated, according to Stefanos Tsitsipas.

World number one Djokovic was paired with Miomir Kecmanovic in Thursday's draw for the opening round, but it remains uncertain whether he will even take part in the first grand slam of the year.

The Serbian was last week given a medical exemption to enter Australia, despite not being vaccinated, only for border officials to block it upon his arrival.

Djokovic was detained for four days while waiting to appeal the case on Monday, which went in his favour at Melbourne Circuit Court.

He has since started training ahead of the Australian Open, which begins next Monday, though immigration minister Alex Hawke may yet cancel his visa for a second time.

The 34-year-old is also being investigated for breaching isolation rules in December after testing positive for COVID-19.

And as a decision regarding whether he can stay in Australia and defend his title is dragged out, Tsitsipas has become the highest-profile tennis figure to criticise Djokovic for his conduct.

"He has been playing by his own rules," world number four Tsitsipas told Indian outlet WION.

"No one would have thought: 'I can come to Australia unvaccinated and not have to follow the protocols they gave me'.

"For Novak it worked another way. It takes a lot of daring to do. Putting a Grand Slam at risk – I don't think many players would do that."

Tsitsipas, who was defeated by Djokovic in last year's French Open final, added: "There are two ways to look at it.

"One way is that almost every single player has been vaccinated and did what they had to do in order to come and play in Australia.

"We have all followed the protocols to come and compete in Australia and been very disciplined in that.

"It seems like not everyone is playing by the rules of how Tennis Australia and some governments have been putting things.

"A very small minority chose to follow their own way. It makes the majority look like they are all fools."

Djokovic has spent the past four days training on court in preparation for the Australian Open, which he has won a record nine times, including in each of the last three years.

But weighing in on the debate on Thursday, Australian deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce said the 20-time grand slam winner must "abide by the rules" if he is to remain in the country.

"You have to be frank – the vast majority of Australians said they didn't like the idea that another individual, whether they're a tennis player or the king of Spain or the queen of England, can come up here and have a different set of rules to what everybody else has to deal with," Joyce said.

"Let's see where it goes from here… I've made my views clear. I might not agree with the fact that I have to be tested to go from New South Wales into Queensland but I do [it’. Why? Because that is the law.

"He is no better. He is still a child of God like the rest of us, isn't he? So he has got to abide by the laws."

Gabon coach Patrice Neveu has tested positive for COVID-19 and missed training on Thursday as captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang returned from isolation with a rallying call.

Neveu's team started their Africa Cup of Nations campaign with a 1-0 win over Comoros on Monday, but the coach appears certain to be absent for their second game on Friday when Ghana provide the opposition.

The Gabonese Football Federation confirmed Neveu's positive test result and stated training was led by assistant coach Anicet Yala, who himself tested positive on arrival in Cameroon last week.

Arsenal striker Aubameyang and Monaco midfielder Mario Lemina also returned positive results before the tournament began, but both are back on the training pitch and could be involved against Ghana.

Aubameyang said he had been able to train on an exercise bike and treadmill in his hotel room to keep up a basic level of fitness.

"Staying locked up is not easy," he said. "So we're happy to be back in training and in the squad."

Aubameyang contended it was too early to feel in any way serene about Gabon's progress in the competition and insisted he and his team-mates must stay focused as Ghana await them.

"I won't say serene, but it certainly feels good to start the competition with a victory," said Aubameyang, quoted on the Gabon team website. "After that, you shouldn't think that you won the [Cup of Nations] either.

"We are going to play a very tough opponent who want to win the game, so we will have to be serious as we were in the first game and I know that we will have our chances.

"I was already very happy that the guys did the job in the first game, we are all proud of them. Now it's up to me to level up and bring everything I can to the group."

The Cup of Nations was expected to provide welcome respite for Aubameyang after strife at club level.

His Arsenal future has become clouded by uncertainty after he was stripped of the club captaincy and dropped by manager Mikel Arteta following a disciplinary breach.

Novak Djokovic has been labelled "selfish" by Joao Sousa for arriving at the Australian Open unvaccinated, but uncertainty still surrounds the Serbian's participation in the event. 

World number one Djokovic was last week given a medical exemption to enter Australia, despite not being vaccinated, only for border officials to block it upon his arrival.

The 20-time grand slam winner was detained for four days while waiting to appeal the case on Monday, which went in his favour at Melbourne Circuit Court.

Djokovic has since started training ahead of the Australian Open, which begins on January 17, though immigration minister Alex Hawke may yet cancel his visa for a second time.

Should the 34-year-old be given the green light to compete at Melbourne Park, however, world number 140 Sousa says it will not sit right with others taking part.

"I respect that he fights for what he believes and I can be empathetic with what he is going through in Australia," Sousa is quoted as saying by Portuguese outlet Bola Amarela.

"But it's a bit selfish from him to arrive here as the only player unvaccinated. It's tough for us players to accept that."

Djokovic has been widely criticised for appearing on social media to mingle with the public in a series of appearances after returning a positive COVID-19 test on December 16.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Djokovic accepted he had made "an error of judgement" going ahead with an interview with French publication L'Equipe around that time.

Franck Ramella, the French journalist who conducted the 33-minute interview while Djokovic was COVID-19 positive, confirmed the tennis star wore a mask the whole time.

A decision on whether Djokovic can defend the title he has won a record nine times could be made on Thursday, when the draw for the main tournament is scheduled to take place.

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