Novak Djokovic in limbo as Australian visa canceled again

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(MELBOURNE) — Novak Djokovic will not be deported or detained on Friday night, but the world’s No.1 tennis player will need to attend an interview with immigration officials in Melbourne at 8 a.m. local time on Saturday — two days before he’s expected to start defending his title at the Australian Open.

A late-night emergency hearing was held at the Australian Federal Circuit and Family Court on Friday, after Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used ministerial powers to cancel his visa again.

Australian authorities on Friday had canceled tennis star Novak Djokovic’s visa, putting his participation in the Australian Open in doubt.

“Today I exercised my power… to cancel the visa held by Mr Novak Djokovic on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so,” Hawke said in a statement.

It could mean that he is banned from entering Australia for up to three years.

Hawke’s decision arrived days after an Australian court reinstated the 34-year-old’s visa, which had been granted with a medical exemption to Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine requirements.

But on Friday night, Judge Anthony Kelly decided to move the case to the Federal Court of Australia in order to secure “a quick, inexpensive final determination of this proceeding.”

For now, Djokovic can remain where he is staying, but he will be taken into detention after an interview with immigration officials at an undisclosed location on Saturday morning. He will then be escorted by two Border Force officials to his lawyers’ office, then is due to go back into detention until Sunday’s hearing.

Djokovic’s team said they will challenge the reasons for canceling his visa — including the claim that allowing Djokovic to stay on would “excite” anti-vaccine activists in Australia.

Djokovic’s lawyer, Nick Wood, told the court that Minister Hawke’s reasoning was “patently irrational” and argued that Djokovic was “in good standing.”

“The reasons of the minister stand in stark contrast to the reasons that the delegate at the airport was saying,” Wood said.

Djokovic’s spokespeople said they want the procedure to move as quickly as possible because every minute before the tournament commences is “precious.”

“We are very concerned about time,” said Wood.

Questions had still lingered, however, about whether Djokovic lied on his Travel Declaration Form. Every traveler arriving in Australia needs to submit the document before entering the country.

At issue were the few weeks prior to Djokovic’s landing in Australia on Jan. 5 from Spain via Dubai. Under Australia’s pandemic measures, the tennis star would have had to stay in Spain for at least 14 days before travelling.

Djokovic on his entry form ticked the box saying he hadn’t traveled during that period. Social media seemed to tell a different story, with at least one post suggesting Djokovic had been in Serbia during those 14 days.

Hawke on Wednesday told ABC News: “Mr. Djokovic’s lawyers have recently provided lengthy further submissions and supporting documentation said to be relevant to the possible cancellation of Mr Djokovic’s visa. Naturally, this will affect the timeframe for a decision.”

The Australian Open begins on Jan. 17. Djokovic has won the tournament the last three years and nine times overall.

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Scoreboard roundup — 1/13/22

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(NEW YORK) — Here are the scores from Thursday’s sports events:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Milwaukee 118, Golden State 99
New Orleans 113 L.A. Clippers 89
Final Memphis 116 Minnesota 108
Final Oklahoma City 130 Brooklyn 109
Final Denver 140 Portland 108

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Columbus 6, Carolina 0
Tampa Bay 4, Vancouver 2
Boston 3, Philadelphia 2
Winnipeg 3, Detroit 0
NY Islanders 3, New Jersey 2
St. Louis 2, Seattle 1
Buffalo 4, Nashville 1
Chicago 3 Montreal 2 (OT)
Ottawa 4, Calgary 1
NY Rangers 3 San Jose 0
Los Angeles 6, Pittsburgh 2

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Oregon 84, UCLA 81
Wisconsin 78, Ohio St. 68
Texas Tech 78, Oklahoma St. 57
DePaul 96, Seton Hall 92
Gonzaga 110, BYU 84
Southern Cal 81, Oregon St. 71
Arizona 76, Colorado 55

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Scoreboard roundup — 1/12/22

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(NEW YORK) — Here are the scores from Wednesday’s sports events:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Washington 112, Orlando 106
Boston 119, Indiana 100
Charlotte 109, Philadelphia 98
Miami 115, Atlanta 91
New York 108, Dallas 85
Houston 128, San Antonio 124
Cleveland 111, Utah 91
Sacramento 125, LA Lakers 116
Brooklyn 138, Chicago 112

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Boston 5, Montreal 1
Dallas 5, Seattle 2
Arizona 2, Toronto 1
Minnesota at Edmonton (Postponed)

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Duke 76, Wake Forest 64
Michigan St. 71, Minnesota 69
LSU 64, Florida 58
Villanova 64, Xavier 60

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Former NFL star Eddie Jackson predicts who’s heading to the Big Game

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(NEW YORK) — Eddie Jackson may have hung up the helmet and cleats to pursue his passion in the culinary arts, but that hasn’t stopped him from predicting who’ll be in this year’s Super Bowl.

The former NFL cornerback, who played for both the Dolphins and Patriots in the mid aughts, told ABC Audio he’s having a “tough” time narrowing down who’ll definitely be squaring off in California’s SoFi Stadium on February 13 — but, he does have an idea.

“My team is the 49ers. They’re in the playoffs, so I would like to see the 49ers make it through the playoffs,” said Jackson, adding that he also sees the possibility of a “Green Bay situation.”  His dream Super Bowl matchup, he says, is the 49ers versus the Patriots.  Despite that, Jackson knows things can change in an instant because “the games are crazy” this season.

Jackson knows the uncertainty is making some fans anxious and leaning on superstitions to feel they have some effect on the game.  But, if you think what you drink, eat or how you stand in the room will somehow help your team win, the former NFL star laughed, “No, fans don’t have any power whatsoever.”

The BBQ Brawl star does admit he used to be superstitious back in the day, adding he would “have my uniform set up in my locker a certain way and I would do it backwards. Normally, your jersey is up top and your pants are on bottom… Didn’t say it worked, but you know!”

Jackson adds superstitions make “the game much more interesting if you’re watching it.” It also makes things more interesting for the players because, “You want the fans to be involved. That’s what it’s all about.  At the end of the day, we play the game for the fans.”

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Texas man charged with giving 2020 Olympic athletes performance drugs

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(NEW YORK) — A naturopathic therapist who operates out of El Paso, Texas, has been charged with distributing multiple performance-enhancing drugs to at least two athletes for the purpose of cheating at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, federal prosecutors in New York said.

The charges against Eric Lira are the first brought under the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act, a measure signed into law in December 2020 that outlaws doping schemes at international sports competitions, including the Olympics.

Lira, 41, allegedly obtained misbranded human growth hormone and the blood building drug erythropoietin in advance of the Tokyo Games from sources in Central and South America. According to the criminal complaint, he distributed them to two athletes who were identified only as “Athlete-1” and “Athlete-2.”

“At a moment that the Olympic Games offered a poignant reminder of international connections in the midst of a global pandemic that had separated communities and countries for over a year, and at a moment that the Games offered thousands of athletes validation after years of training, Eric Lira schemed to debase that moment by peddling illegal drugs,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said.

The complaint quoted from encrypted communications in which Lira and Athlete-1 allegedly discussed the drugs.

On June 13 “Athlete-1 wrote to LIRA, ‘So I took 2000ui of the E [erythropoietin] yesterday, is it safe to take a test this morning?’ LIRA replied, ‘Good day [Athlete-1] . . . . 2000 ui is a low dosage.’ Athlete-1 replied further, ‘Remember I took it Wednesday and then yesterday again / I wasn’t sure so I didn’t take a test / I just let them go so it will be a missed test,’” the complaint said.

Athlete-1 was suspended from Olympic competition on July 30, 2021, after she was found to have used human growth hormone, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. She was banned from the 100m semi-finals, a description that matches Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare.

Lira is also accused of conspiring with others to violate drug misbranding and adulteration laws, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

He made his initial appearance via Zoom before Judge Miguel Torres in Texas on Wednesday, the day he was arrested.

Lira said he has not yet hired an attorney but plans to. The judge appointed a public defender to at least handle his next court date Tuesday.

He remains detained.

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Novak Djokovic apologizes for ‘error of judgement’ in new statement

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(MELBOURNE) — Tennis world No. 1 Novak Djokovic is apologizing for an “error of judgement” related to an in-person interview he conducted last month after being exposed to COVID-19 as he continues to fight to stay in Australia and compete in the first major of the year.

Djokovic, who is tied for first all time with 20 major wins, released a new statement Wednesday midday local time in Melbourne explaining the timeline of several public appearances around when he tested positive for COVID in December — which he says should allow him to compete in the Australian Open despite apparently not being vaccinated.

“I want to address the continuing misinformation about my activities and attendance at events in December leading up to my positive PCR COVID test result,” he wrote in an Instagram post. “This is information which needs to be corrected, particularly in the interest of alleviating broader concern in the community about my presence in Australia, and to address matters which are very hurtful and concerning to my family.”

Djokovic said he attended a basketball game in his home country of Serbia on Dec. 14, where he later found out several people had tested positive for the virus. He took a rapid test two days later, despite no symptoms, and was found to be negative, he wrote. He took a PCR test — which are generally more accurate than rapid tests — “out of an abundance of caution” on the same day.

The next day he took another rapid test that was negative prior to presenting awards to children at a tennis event. Photos from the event show Djokovic on stage presenting the awards to children while not wearing a mask.

He said he was feeling well and did not find out he had tested positive for COVID-19 on the PCR test until after attending the event.

But Djokovic also admitted in Wednesday’s post that he continued on with an interview and photoshoot with the French outlet L’Equipe despite being aware of his positive PCR result and said his attendance was “an error of judgement.”

“I felt obliged to go ahead and conduct the L’Equipe interview as I didn’t want to let the journalist down, but did ensure I socially distanced and wore a mask except when my photograph was being taken,” he wrote. “When I went home after the interview to isolate for the required period, on reflection, this was an error of judgement and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment.”

Djokovic was turned away by officials when trying to enter Australia last week, saying the country’s strict COVID restrictions prevented him from competing. Djokovic has been open previously about not getting vaccinated and officials said he did not submit a valid medical excuse to not receive a shot.

But the tennis star won his case in court on Monday to overturn his visa cancellation and began training for the event even as Australian government officials said they were debating whether to use discretionary powers to revoke the defending champion’s visa.

In Wednesday’s statement, Djokovic said someone from his team had incorrectly filled out the form that claimed he had not left Spain for 14 days prior to traveling to Australia — even though a post on Instagram showed him with Serbian handball player Petar Djordjic in their home country on Christmas.

“My agent sincerely apologises for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box about my previous travel before coming to Australia,” Djokovic wrote. “This was a human error and certainly not deliberate. We are living in challenging times in a global pandemic and sometimes these mistakes can occur.”

He said he’d submitted paperwork to the Australian government to clear up the error, a fact reiterated in a statement from Immigration Minister Alex Hawke.

In a statement given Wednesday local time, Hawke told ABC News: “Mr. Djokovic’s lawyers have recently provided lengthy further submissions and supporting documentation said to be relevant to the possible cancellation of Mr Djokovic’s visa. Naturally, this will affect the timeframe for a decision.”

The Australian Open begins on Jan. 17. Djokovic has won the tournament the last three years and nine times overall.

ABC News’ Britt Clennett contributed to this report.

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Novak Djokovic’s Australian travel entry form questioned by officials

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(NEW YORK) — Tennis star Novak Djokovic may have won Monday’s court battle to appeal his visa cancellation, but his tussle with the Australian government doesn’t appear to be over just yet.

Australian authorities are looking into whether ​Djokovic lied on his Travel Declaration Form, and Immigration Minister Alex Hawke is weighing whether to use discretionary powers to revoke the Serb’s visa, days before the defending champion is set to play in the Australian Open which begins on Jan. 17.

Every traveler needs to submit the document before entering the country. They must declare whether they have travelled or intend to travel in the 14 days before arrival.

Djokovic declared that he had not travelled in the two weeks before his arrival, according to documents submitted to the court.

He flew to Australia from Spain via Dubai on Jan. 4, meaning that he would have had to stay in Spain for 14 days ahead of his arrival on Jan. 5.

But at least one post online appeared to suggest he was in Serbia over Christmas. On Dec. 25, Serbian handball player Petar Djordjic posted a photo on instagram alongside Djokovic, with the caption: “ONE AND ONLY!!!!! Thank you for the picture and for the nice wishes.”

The travel declaration discrepancy seems to be a main point of investigation for Hawke, the immigration minister, who is “thoroughly” considering whether to cancel Djokovic’s visa under a section of Australia’s Migration Act.

In a statement to ABC News, the Australian Border Force said it would not comment on operational matters, adding that, “Providing false or misleading information or documentation to the Commonwealth can lead to visa cancellation and/or attract penalties, including under criminal law.”

Djokovic, the world’s top tennis star, was denied entry when he landed last Wednesday, Jan. 6. The 34-year-old had applied for a medical exemption to Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine requirements. But officials questioned whether he meet the requirements for that exemption.

He was placed into immigration detention in the Park Hotel in inner Melbourne until Monday, when a judge ruled he could stay in the country.

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WATCH: Georgia Bulldogs beat Alabama Crimson Tide in CFB playoffs, 33-18

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(INDIANAPOLIS) — The University of Georgia claimed its first college football national championship in 41 years. The Bulldogs defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide 33-18 Monday night.

Amy Robach of ABC’s Good Morning America reports from Indianapolis:

Georgia’s MVP quarterback Stetson Bennett talks about the team’s big win on Good Morning America:

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Scoreboard roundup — 1/10/22

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(NEW YORK) — Here are the scores from Monday’s sports events:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Detroit 126, Utah 116
Charlotte 103, Milwaukee 99
New York 111, San Antonio 96
Philadelphia 111, Houston 91
Boston 101, Indiana 98 (OT)
Cleveland 109, Sacramento 108
Portland 114, Brooklyn 108

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Boston 7, Washington 3
Colorado 4, Seattle 3
Los Angeles 3, NY Rangers 1
Columbus at Montreal (Postponed)
Tampa Bay at New Jersey (Postponed)
Minnesota at Winnipeg (Postponed)
Ottawa at Edmonton (Postponed)

TOP-25 COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Georgia 33, Alabama 18

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Tennis star Novak Djokovic wins visa appeal in Australia

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(MELBOURNE) — The Australian government has overturned a decision to cancel Novak Djokovic’s visa, saying the Serbian tennis star will be released immediately from immigration detention.

Djokovic had been detained upon arrival for the Australian Open, where he was set to defend his Grand Slam title. The Australian Border Force canceled Djokovic’s visa and denied him entry into the country, saying he could have been deported.

Djokovic’s legal team argued that border officials failed to give valid notice of the intention to cancel his visa and that he did everything asked of him for quarantine-free travel.

Judge Anthony Kelly ordered on Monday that the Australian government pay for Djokovic’s legal costs, that his passport be returned to him and that he be released from immigration detention within 30 minutes of the ruling.

The Australian Open is scheduled to begin Jan. 17.

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