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Djokovic detained ahead of Australian visa hearing

Serbian Novak Djokovic rests during a practice session ahead of the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia on January 14. (Diego Fedele/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Tennis star Novak Djokovic will be detained again by Australian authorities on Saturday before his application to stay in the country is heard in Federal Court.

The decision was made during an emergency hearing before Judge Anthony Kelly in the Federal Circuit and Family Court on Friday, following Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s decision to cancel the visa of Djokovic for the second time.

The tennis star will be interviewed by the Australian Border Force at 8am Saturday local time (4pm ET Friday) at an undisclosed location “agreed between the parties” in the case.

At that time, Djokovic will be formally detained by two Border Force agents and escorted to his attorney’s office while his case is heard in federal court.

The place where Djokovic will be met by border agents will remain secret in order to ensure the safety of the tennis star and to prevent “a media circus”.

“We have a real security concern and a potential media circus,” Djokovic’s attorney, Nick Wood, told the court, imploring Judge Kelly to allow Djokovic to be handed over to border officials in private.

Novak Djokovic v. Minister of Immigration, as the case is known, was formally transferred from the Federal Circuit Court to the Federal Court of Australia late Friday evening local time.

Judge David O’Callaghan will now oversee the case, with a first hearing scheduled for 10:15 a.m. Saturday local time (6:15 p.m. ET Friday).

Wood told the court the immigration minister used his personal power to cancel the 34-year-old’s visa on the grounds that he would ‘stir up anti-vax sentiment’ if he stayed in Australia, describing it as a “radically different approach” in the government’s argument.

“The new underlying rationale is not a direct risk to others, it’s that Mr Djokovic being in Australia, Melbourne in particular, being here will stir up anti-vax sentiment. That’s the point. A radically different approach,” Wood said.