NOVAK Djokovic has been thrown back in an immigration detention centre AGAIN ahead of his last-ditch court case to avoid being kicked out of Australia.
The 34-year tennis star is facing deportation and even being frogmarched to the airport under armed guard if his last appeal is unsuccessful.
Djokovic arrived at Melbourne’s Park Hotel – the same immigration detention centre where he was held last week – just before 3.30pm on Saturday (4.30am UK time).
A dozen refugee activists chanted “stop the torture… let them out” as the tennis star and Border Force guards drove into the underground car park of the hotel.
It will be a second stint in detention for Djokovic, who spent his first four nights in Australia in the hotel before a judge freed him on Monday.
Djokovic met with immigration officials and Border Force earlier on Saturday for a secret showdown at an undisclosed location before he was hauled back to the hotel once again.
Justice David O’Callaghan has now set a hearing on Djokovic’s appeal for 9.30am on Sunday (10.30pm on Saturday, UK time).
The saga over anti-vaxxer Djokovic’s jab status began when his visa was revoked when he first landed Down Under.
The latest twist saw the Australian government revoke his visa, overturning a successful appeal that saw him released from detention.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used his powers to revoke Djokovic’s visa on “health and good order” grounds and overturn an earlier successful appeal.
Read our Novak Djokovic live blog for the latest updates
During a special night time court hearing, his legal team immediately launched a desperate last minute bid for him to stay in the country.
Djokovic’s lawyers said they would argue his deportation would only further fan anti-vaxx sentiment – and would be as much a threat to public health as letting him stay and exempting him from Australia’s vaccine requirement.
Last month, a guest of the immigration detention hotel said the food given to people being detained there contained maggots and mould.
Meanwhile another asylum seeker said he vomited after eating the food.
When he was there the first time, his mother Dijana spoke out about the conditions he faced.
At a press confrence in Belgrade she said: “He was trying to sleep, but he couldn’t.
“As a mother, what can I say, you can just imagine how I feel, I feel terrible since yesterday, the last 24 hours.
“They are keeping him like a prisoner, it’s just not fair, it’s not human.”
If the court rules his deportation from Australia, Djokovic faces being escorted to the plane by armed cops.
According to the gotocourt legal website, if an application to stay is refused then a person will be arrested and removed from Australia.
“Unless you leave voluntarily, you will be arrested and removed from Australia,” writes lawyer Michelle Makela on the website.
Police and Australian Border Force officers are routinely armed.
Immigration expert Abdul Rizvi told Channel 10’s The Project about what could happen.
He said: “The cancellation notice (would be) taken by Australian Border Force (officers) who usually dress in very, very dark uniforms and often carry guns turning up to Mr Djokovic’s hotel or on the tennis court.”
At a hastily arranged late night hearing in the Federal Circuit Court, Judge Anthony Kelly threw Djokovic another lifeline.
He ordered the federal government not take any steps to remove the star from Australia before his appeal is resolved.
If successful he could be playing fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round of the Australian Open, which begins on Monday and for which he is the number one seed.
Melbourne-based immigration lawyer Kian Bone said Djokovic’s lawyers would need to get two urgent orders.
One order would be an injunction preventing his deportation, such as what he won in court last week.
The second would force Hawke to grant Djokovic a visa to play.
After Saturday’s meeting Djokovic will be allowed to visit the offices of his lawyers to discuss his case.
He will be escorted by two Border Force officials, who are routinely armed.
And he can return to those offices on Sunday, when a final hearing on the matter is expected to take place.
He will then be kept in detention except to attend online court hearings at his solicitors’ offices, with Border Force officials deployed on the same floor.
If he loses his appeal and is deported then he would banned from Australia for three years.
He will be 37 by the time he is able to return to the the country and play in the Australian Open.
The nine-time Australian Open winner was hoping to defend his title next week.
If he won it would make him the most successful male tennis player in history with a record 21 Grand Slam titles.
Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used his powers to revoke Djokovic’s visa after a court released him from detention on Monday.
He said the decision was made on the grounds of “health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so”.
The government “is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Hawke added.
Djokovic could be jailed after admitting he broke Serbian isolation rules after testing positive for Covid in December.
In a lengthy statement, Djokovic admitted he defied rules and took part in a photo shoot and interview with French newspaper L’Equipe in an “error of judgement”.
He confessed that he met with a journalist two days after he tested positive in Belgrade, before his arrival Down Under.
The 34-year-old posed maskless for a photo shoot, but says he wore a face covering for the rest of the meeting.
He claims he felt “obliged” to fulfil the interview arrangement as he “didn’t want to let the journalist down”, but has admitted he should have “rearranged”.
Serbia’s PM Ana Brnabic told BBC that if Djokovic had attended events despite a positive test, “it would be a clear breach of rules, because if you are positive, you would have to be isolation”.
Under Serbian law, breaking Covid rules can result in a jail sentence of up to three years.
Djokovic’s visa was first revoked shortly after his arrival in Melbourne on 6 January.
Australian border Force officials said he had “failed to provide appropriate evidence” to receive a vaccine exemption.
The star spent hours a the airport and then spent days at an immigration hotel.
He also faced a backlash from the Australian public, who have lived under some of the world’s longest and strictest lockdowns during the pandemic.
Cricket legend Shane Warne was among those calling for Djokovic to be deported.
“Novak is a great tennis player & one of the all time greats,” Warne tweeted.
No doubt. But he’s lied on entry forms, been out in public when he knew he had Covid & is now facing legal cases.
“He’s entitled to not be jabbed but Oz is entitled to throw him out! Agree?”
Days later his visa was reinstated by a judge who ruled that border officials ignored correct procedure when he arrived.
In the meantime it emerged the Monte Carlo-based star had incorrectly said on his immigration declaration he hadn’t visited any other countries within14 days of arriving in Melbourne.
In fact he was filmed playing tennis in the streets of the Serbian capital Belgrade on December 25.
A picture shared on Twitter also shows him beaming beside handball player Petar Djordjic in Belgrade the same day.
Then days later, the 34-year-old was reportedly filmed training in Spain on December 31 and posing for a group photograph the same day.
That has led to speculation the incorrect information could lead to him facing jail.
Applicants are warned on the form: “Note: Giving false or misleading information is a serious offence. You may also be liable to a civil penalty for giving false or misleading information.”