Novak Djokovic has won an appeal against deportation from Australia, with a judge ordering that he be released from hotel quarantine within 30 minutes.
Border officials previously ruled that the tennis star did not meet the criteria for a COVID exemption to entry requirements.
Djokovic had spent four nights in an immigration detention hotel in Melbourne before the virtual hearing got under way at around 10am local time.
The court rejected a decision by airport staff that he didn’t meet the criteria for an exemption to a requirement that all non-Australians be fully vaccinated.
Judge Anthony Kelly noted that Djokovic had provided officials with a medical exemption given him by Tennis Australia and two medical panels.
“The point I’m somewhat agitated about is what more could this man have done?” Mr Kelly asked Djokovic’s lawyer, Nick Wood.
However, it may not be the end of the row.
Sky reporter Nicole Johnston, outside the hotel where Djokovic was being held, said the case will go back to the immigration minister and the department for home affairs to decide whether to reinstate the visa.
Djokovic’s case has caused a political row after Prime Minister Scott Morrison said “rules are rules” and any incoming passenger was responsible for meeting border regulations.
Mr Morrison was then accused of taking advantage of the case to improve his popularity ahead of upcoming elections.
Djokovic’s lawyers claimed he should have been allowed to enter because he had “been recently infected with COVID in December 2021 and on this basis… was entitled to a medical exemption in accordance with Australian government rules and guidance”.
They filed papers that showed Djokovic had tested positive for COVID-19 last month and recovered.
They showed the 34-year-old received a letter from Tennis Australia’s chief medical officer on 30 December “recording that he had been provided with a ‘medical exemption from COVID vaccination’ on the grounds that he had recently recovered from COVID”.
It said Djokovic’s first positive test was on 16 December and, on the date of issue, the exemption said the player “had not had a fever or respiratory symptoms in the past 72 hours”.