The incident is being considered as an extraordinary setback for the Australian government, which has imposed strict pandemic requirements on arriving foreign travellers for the past two years.

In an emergency online court hearing Monday, the judge said the government side had agreed to drop its visa decision and he ordered Djokovic's immediate release.
In an emergency online court hearing Monday, the judge said the government side had agreed to drop its visa decision and he ordered Djokovic's immediate release. (Reuters)

World number one Novak Djokovic has won a stunning victory over the Australian government, overturning the cancellation of the tennis star's visa on Covid-19 health grounds and ending his detention.

It was an extraordinary setback for the Australian government, which has imposed strict pandemic requirements on arriving foreign travellers for the past two years.

But the Australian government's lawyer told the court that Immigration Minister Alex Hawke may still decide to use his "personal power of cancellation" despite the player's victory.

The 34-year-old Djokovic arrived in Melbourne last week ahead of the Australian Open, which starts in just one week, hoping to win a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title.

READ MORE: Court hears Djokovic's bid to stay in Australia after visa furore

But instead of a champion's welcome, officers at Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport decided the unvaccinated star had failed to present a solid medical reason for not being jabbed.

Djokovic's visa was revoked and he was moved to a notorious immigration detention facility pending deportation.

In an emergency online court hearing Monday, the judge said the government side had agreed to drop its visa decision and he ordered Djokovic's immediate release.

"Such release must occur no later than 30 minutes after the making of this order," he said.

Djokovic has been in detention at the former Park Hotel, a five-storey facility that holds about 32 migrants trapped in Australia's hardline immigration system, some for years on end.

An early plea by Djokovic to be moved to a facility where he can train for the Australian Open had fallen on deaf ears, his lawyers said.

The court's finding, read out in an online hearing, recalled that Djokovic was interviewed overnight at Melbourne airport after his arrival late on Wednesday night.

READ MORE: Djokovic in deportation limbo after Australia court adjourns visa appeal

In the early hours of the next morning, the player was told he had until 8:30 am to reply to the proposed cancellation of his visa. But instead, the border agent cancelled it at 7:42 am.

If Djokovic had been given until 8:30 am as first promised, "he could have consulted others and made submissions to the delegate about why his visa should not be cancelled," the judge said.

Though the hearing was held online, a small group of Djokovic fans gathered outside the federal court building, waving a Serbian flag, holding up a photo of their hero and dancing to the tune of an accordion.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies