'You're giving me 20 minutes to provide information I don't have?'

‘You’re giving me 20 minutes to provide information I don’t have? At 4am?’ Interview transcript reveals how bewildered Djokovic was grilled alone for nearly eight hours by Border Police before being stripped of his visa

  • Transcript revealed Novak Djokovic was grilled alone for seven hours by officials 
  • He was refused access to his manager or Tennis Australia during the questioning
  • At 4am, he was given 20 minutes to prove that his visa should not be cancelled
  • Judge ruled on Monday officials did not give him enough time to form a defence
  • Djokovic was released from detention today and hours later, was back on court

A transcript of Novak Djokovic’s nearly eight hour grilling at the hands of Australian border force has revealed the bewildered tennis star was unable to contact anyone to help him before he was stripped of his visa.  

The tennis star was interviewed by border officials from 12:21am on January 6, when he touched down in Melbourne, through the night until his visa was revoked at 7:43am and he was detained in Park Hotel. 

Djokovic, who was travelling for the Australia Open later this month, repeatedly asked for a delay, to speak to his manager and to be put in contact with Tennis Australia – but the requests were denied until at least 4:32am.    

At 4am, he was served a ‘notice of intention’ to consider cancelling his visa and given 20 minutes to provide reasons why the Australian government should not revoke his travel documents. 

‘So you’re giving me legally 20 minutes to try to provide additional information that I don’t have? At 4 o clock in the morning?’, Djokovic asked the interviewer, according to the 30-page transcript. 

The tennis star was released from detention on Monday after Judge Anthony Kelly ruled border agents had not given Djokovic enough time to put together a defence at 4am.

But he still faces being kicked out of the country by immigration minister Alex Hawke who has the power to rip up individual visas.

Hours after he was freed from the migrant detention where he has been languishing for the last six days, Djokovic was pictured on a tennis court in Melbourne starting his training for the Australian Open at midnight.

A transcript of Novak Djokovic’s seven hour grilling at the hands of Australian border force has revealed the bewildered tennis star was unable to contact anyone to help him before he was stripped of his visa

Novak Djokovic was released from detention centre Park Hotel (pictured) on Monday after a judge slapped down the government’s attempt to rip up his visa, though with the threat of deportation still hanging over his head

The interview started at 12:21am after Djokovic landed on an Emirates flight from Dubai and involved Border Police asking the tennis star basic questions, including when he had been infected with Covid-19. 

It was suspended at 00:52 and resumed at 3:55am. At 5:22am a second interviewer took over and continued to question Djokovic until 6:07am when he requested a delay to speak to his manager and the grilling was stopped. 

The interview resumed again at 7:38am and the Border Police official informed Djokovic of the decision to revoke his visa and detain him.  

Though there were several other short breaks in the interview, the transcript shows the tennis player was kept up through the night without being allowed to contact anyone for help.  

Djokovic repeatedly told Border Police that he had all the documents required by Tennis Australia and the Victorian Government and that they had been checked by a medical panel. 

He said he had documents showing ‘a medical exemption from Covid vaccination’ provided by an independent medical review panel commissioned by Tennis Australia and that they had been ‘reviewed and endorsed by independent medical exemption review panel of the Victorian State Government’.

He said he had Covid-19 twice, the second time on December 16, within the six month limit, and said he had proved that he had sufficient antibodies – but confirmed he had not had the vaccine.   

‘I had Covid twice,’ Djokovic said. ‘I had Covid in June 2020 and I had Covid recently in – I was tested positive – PCR – 16th of December 2021.’   

Hours after he was freed from the migrant detention where he has been languishing for the last six days, Djokovic was pictured on a tennis court in Melbourne starting his training for the Australian Open at midnight 

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic stands at a booth of the Australian Border Force at the airport in Melbourne, Australia, on January 5

The interview was then suspended at 00:52 until 3:55am when Border Police served Djokovic a notice of intention to consider cancelling his visa.

Officials told Djokovic that as per the legislation, he had 20 minutes to provide reasons why they should not rip up his visa. 

‘I am really failing to understand what else do you want me to provide to you,’ Djokovic said. 

‘I have provided all the documents that Tennis Australia and Victorian government has asked me to do in the last three/four weeks, this is what we have been doing.’

‘I applied [for a medical exemption], they approved, I just really don’t know what else do you want me to say. I arrived here because of these documents otherwise I wouldn’t have been allowed to come in. 

‘I just really don’t understand what is the reason you don’t allow me to enter your country.’

After being told a second time he will only have 20 minutes to provide a reason the visa should not be cancelled, Djokovic said: ‘So you’re giving me legally 20 minutes to try to provide additional information that I don’t have? At 4 o clock in the morning?

‘I mean you kind of put me in a very awkward position where at 4 in the morning I can’t call director of Tennis Australia, I can’t engage with anybody from the Victorian state government through Tennis Australia. 

‘I just, you put me in a very uncomfortable position. I don’t know what else can I tell you. I mean everything that that they.. that I was asked to do is here.’

Djokovic repeatedly asked to turn on his phone to contact his team for help and was eventually given permission to make a phone call at 4:32am. 

The tennis star told Border Police the Victoria government had approved his request for a medical exemption before sending the request to the federal government which provided a travel declaration and visa. 

There are 33 men currently detained in the hotel (pictured) after being flown from Manus Island and Nauru under now defunct medevac laws

Refugees staying at the Park Hotel have previously claimed to find ‘live maggots’ crawling through their food (pictured) – saying living conditions are below basic human rights

Some of the prisoners have complained of receiving mouldy food, with one image showing stains on pieces of bread (pictured)

But officers pushed back, telling Djokovic that having recovered from Covid-19 was not sufficient reason to get a border certificate and that he must be vaccinated to get into Australia. 

‘Travellers may make a declaration that they have a medical contraindication and must provide evidence of that medical contraindication provided by their medical practitioner,’ the interviewer said.

‘Previous infection with Covid-19 is not considered a medical contraindication for Covid-19 vaccination in Australia.’

Djokovic interrupted the official, telling them the legislation they were reading was ‘not true’. 

‘I mean this is — this is what we — this is what the the independent medical panel of Victorian state government has stated explicitly that… if you have recovered or if you had the positive test of coronavirus and negative test of coronavirus in the last six months and you have a sufficient amount of antibodies, you’re considered to be part of the the the process of getting a medical exemption.’ 

Djokovic added:  ‘The federal government said okay, fine, access granted, travel declaration, QR code, you are free to go.

‘Otherwise I wouldn’t be flying here. There’s absolutely no way I would put myself in a position to come and sit here with you… 

‘I made it all the way to Australia because you know they all made it very clear and certain to me that I have all the documentation that I possibly can provide to you.’

The interview was suspended for a second time at 6:07am and resumed at 7:38am, when Djokovic was told his visa had been cancelled and that he would be detained. 

Border Police appeared to tell the tennis star he would be deported, explaining that it was the responsibility of the airline that flew him to Australia to return him to where he had come from and offering the contact details of the Serbian Embassy. 

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