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Novak Djokovic's Visa Cancelled; Djokovic's Legal Team Expected to Fight in Court; Buckingham Palace Terminated Prince Andrew from Royal Duties; No Done Deal Between Russia and NATO Leaders; Australia Prime Minister Says Decision To Cancel Novak Djokovic Visa Protects Australian Sacrifices; Omicron-Driven Infections Dominate Europe; French teachers On Strike Over School COVID Protocols; Flights Cancelled U.S.-China, Due To China Strict COVID Restrictions; Zero- COVID Puts Brakes On Air Cargo Into Hong Kong; Virgin Orbit And SpaceX Space Exploration. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired January 14, 2022 - 03:00   ET



PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Get straight to our breaking news. For the second time the Australian government has revoked the visa of tennis world number one Novak Djokovic. And of course, now a legal battle is expected.

Djokovic who is unvaccinated is determined to compete in the Australian Open which starts on Monday. It is already Friday in Australia. And he is seeking a record 21st Grand Slam title.

But the Australian immigration minister used his personal power to cancel Djokovic's visa. Basically saying, no exception will be made, not on my watch. And it's the public's best interest, he says, for Djokovic to leave the country immediately.

Scott McLean is in Belgrade, Serbia for us, and of course, it's the tennis star's hometown. But first, we want to go straight to our Phil Black at what has been an absolutely momentous decision. We've been waiting so many days for this now, Phil. I mean, what did you see from the minister's statement and what does it tell you?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They has been considering this decision ever since a judge earlier in the week overturned the decision -- the first decision to cancel Novak Djokovic's visa. It restored his visa and freed from immigration detention. The minister has considered his decision under his personal powers and discretion which are broadly considered to be quite wide and powerful.

And in it, he talks about looking at information that has been provided to him by the Australian border force, by the home affairs department and by Mr. Djokovic himself. The decision is justified in very loose language under what is described as health and good order grounds, and being in the public interest.

Now when you look at the specific piece of legislation, and the specific section of that legislation that the minister is citing there. It talks about a situation where the minister has found the visa holder may or might be, or would be a risk to the health, safety and good order of the Australian public or a section of the Australian public.

So, it is under that characterization, that the immigration minister has made this decision to cancel Novak Djokovic's visa. And assuming that Novak Djokovic's lawyers appeal this, as we expect they will, it is that characterization that they will challenge.

But we understand from legal experts that it's a difficult thing to challenge. And that is because of the very loose language, the may, the might, the would be. It's a very low bar that has to be met for the government in order to establish that Novak Djokovic could, or maybe a threat in some way to the public health safety and good order of the Australian public.

But that is the discussion that will take place, assuming that Djokovic's lawyers can get before a judge reasonably quickly. And we understand that that's likely. Because the judge that heard his case last Monday, that ruled that Djokovic should be free, said at that time that he was prepared as someone who was ready and read in to hear this case again if he was kept in the loop about any subsequent decisions.

So, if his wishes have been respected, then we would expect that that judge was aware of this decision before the statement was released, and that he would perhaps be prepared to assess whether or not Novak Djokovic and his legal team should be allowed to appeal the decision.

Because that's the key point. He can't just automatically appeal. He has to -- now his lawyers have to make a case that suggest there are good grounds for appeal. And it is something that the judge should set aside time to hear. But for Djokovic there's a couple of things to consider here. What happens to him next? Does he goes through back into immigration detention?

We've received some advice from a former senior official with the Australian Department of Immigration that yes, that is the case. That when a visa is canceled in this way, under the section of the act, he does go straight back into immigration detention. Which it would be, I think you would agree pretty extraordinary.

And then there is also just the fact that the clock is ticking in the sense that the Australian Open is set to begin in just a couple of days' time. For Djokovic to have any chance of playing in the opening round, he has to get his team before a judge quickly and they have to make their case and ideally make their case successfully so that he can be free to play and fight for the title next week, Paula.

NEWTON: Yes. And the tick tack is so important here about if he's going to be in detention in the coming hours or if there's this issue about whether or not, as you just pointed, he will stay there.

Phil, standby for us a second. We are going to get to our Scott McLean who is in Belgrade. And I dare say, Scott, that the fury that some Australians have felt towards Novak Djokovic even being in the country unvaccinated is only matched by certainly the staunch support that many people in Serbia have had throughout this case, saying that they cannot fathom that he'd be kicked out of the country.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, exactly. We are waiting for reaction from Serbian officials today. This is obviously being discussed on television here, and we are told there is considerable outrage. That should not come to a surprise to anyone by any stretch. That's because nobody here, it seems -- or very few people here seem all that interested, Paula, in poking holes Novak Djokovic's story.

This man is undoubtedly a national hero. And you know, when you hear about people in Australia not wanting Djokovic to have special treatment, well, nobody seems bothered by the fact that he is undoubtedly had special treatment in this country.

The president has called him personally during this whole ordeal on at least a couple of occasions. The president, the prime minister had been trying to use their resources to lobby Australian officials to at the very least to make things more comfortable for him. But to try and get him through this without incident.

What's even more interesting is that, look, this country does not have a great track record when it comes to convincing people to actually take the vaccine. And just earlier this week the president was on the state broadcaster and he said, look, people should get vaccinated but I'm not going to chase people who choose not to get the vaccine.

And if you talk to people in the street, by and large, they say that it is a personal choice. It is up to every individual person. It's a different perspective than we often hear in other parts of Europe or in the United States, or certainly in Australia.

You can also bet that there is going to be a furious reaction from Novak Djokovic's parents, and his family. They held a press conference earlier this week where, you know, it was more of a celebration of the fact that he had passed this early hurdle by having his visa cancellation quashed. They were talking about, you know, just how good of a person he is, and how much he's been through, and how worried they were for him throughout this ordeal.

There were two rallies attended by Novak Djokovic's father here in Belgrade against the conditions that he has been under in Australia. The father said that his human rights have been taken away from him. That he went to the country with everything in order. He frames this as a fight between tennis authorities the state of Victoria, the federal government, something that they are frankly not all that interested in.

And they -- and I think the bottom line here is, look, the father's point is what we heard from other people. That if you are going to trample on Novak Djokovic you are trampling on the Serbian people, and the entire country of Serbia. And that is certainly the way that it feels oftentimes, Paula?

NEWTON: Absolutely, and that's been the striking point that's come through loud and clear. And Phil, as I said, that's only to be matched really by the fury and the anger. The people of Australia saying look, we've been through a lot in this pandemic.

Can you kind of give us an inkling as to what Australians are feeling about this and how untenable it would've been for the minister to do nothing and let Djokovic play on?

BLACK: Well, it all started, Paula, when Novak Djokovic announced on social media that he was coming to Australia. And that he had received some sort of exemption to play. That triggered a very strong, very angry, almost visceral reaction among a wide part of the Australian population who felt that this was a sports superstar who was receiving special treatment of some kind.

After a two-year period in which many Australians had been forced to follow incredibly strict lockdown rules. They've been forced to adhere to border closures at a state level and at a national level, as well. Where a great deal of sacrifice, a great deal of loss and hurt has been experienced by many people.

And then on top of that there is as many people say, this Australian cultural sense of egalitarian where people here do not like the idea of some people getting special treatment, just because they happen to be rich and famous.

So, it was on the back of that very strong reaction, that the Prime Minister Scott Morrison decided to side with that feeling very strongly and said that rules are rules. He will get no special treatment when he arrives. It's up to him to prove that he's got a valid exemption. And only with that valid exemption from vaccination would he be allowed into the country.

And so, when he did arrive, he was pulled aside. He was interviewed by border officials through the night. And that was when they first made that determination that he did not have a valid exemption to enter the country without vaccination despite that Djokovic case which said he had recently recovered from COVID-19.

For all of these reasons, there has been a great sense of anticipation about this decision among the Australian public. A lot of anger about Djokovic has continued to bleed on through the week. As well as growing frustration about the government's handling.

The initial court last the long period of time that it has taken to make this decision. And so, there is a lot of state for the government now in defending this decision, in d making sure that it holds up, stands up should it go before court once more, Paula.


NEWTON: And that is what we are waiting now. Phil Black, thank you for your analysis there from Melbourne. And Scott McLean for us in Belgrade, Serbia. And we want to go -- we're now straight to Darren Kane in Sydney. He's a sports attorney and columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald.

And we definitely want to talk to you because what goes on in court now, right, will determine what goes on, on the court of that Australian Open. What are the parameters here, and I want to speak specifically about how quickly he would need to be in detention now and how he is able to leave detention? What would a judge have to rule on? And I will note it is late on a Friday night right now in Australia.

DARREN KANE, SPORTS ATTORNEY: Yes, thanks for having me. Look, there's a few things to it. In terms of how quickly he has to go into detention. Well, he doesn't have a visa anymore that give him a legal right to be in Australia. So really, he's got a couple of choices to either, you know, frankly what he should do is present himself for, you know, re-detaining or he should hop on flying to get back home.

In terms of the likeness of the game, obviously this decision is being made just before 6 p.m. Sydney time, and Melbourne time. There would be a duty judge on call, and indeed, it's probably that may well be the same judge that heard the matter early in the week who would be on call. And he could sit -- any judge can sit 24 hours a day, seven days a week so that's an issue.

But you're right, what happens next is, you know, it's going to happen quite quickly.

NEWTON: When we talk about this issue about what would happen if he was let out of detention and could still appeal. It's this concept of a bridging visa. Could we end up in a situation where the government has still said, look, you've got to leave, he has a right to due process. And it means he plays on while that appeal unfolds?

KANE: Look, they are very complicated matters, but as the matters stand, he does not have a visa, that's been taken away from him. So, you know, whether the court signal the path he'd grant what you might refer to as a bridging visa, it's a very large question.

But he's in a very difficult position now because what he in effect has to do in order to, you know, win any subsequent court challenges is effectively demonstrate that the minister has improperly used the ministers very wide and very broad, and very, in many ways, subjective discretionary power.

But you really have to show that the minister is either exercise that power capriciously or perhaps taking into account a (Inaudible) legal material that's highly irrelevant to the issues at hand.

NEWTON: And I hear you that on the case itself that the government probably wanted to wait to make sure it was, to use a phrase bulletproof, because they didn't want to be embarrassed again and lose in court. But do you think that that period of limbo, that issue that he does have to get due process could mean that he could still play, because it could take several days for this to play out? KANE: Well, another way to look at it would be to say that the period

between Tuesday -- I think I spoke to you, and now has been actually giving him that due process. You know, a minister could, I guess have turn around and make a kneejerk decision on the Wednesday. But the minister didn't do that.

What seems to have happened over the period of at least 72 hours, is that Mr. Djokovic has been given an opportunity to put whatever submissions he wants to put before the minister, and indeed, the minister's (Inaudible) information from border force over the Department of Foreign Affairs and immigration department before making the decision.

I think that, you know, one view, and probably the correct view is that he has been given a fairly due process already. And what you are really talking about now is the person that wants to appeal against the exercise of the discretion of the minister.

It's a very difficult appeal to get out of line, and a much different case to the case that was brought the other say.

NEWTON: I hear you it's a high bar, and likely perhaps maybe one judge will not indulge. Darren Kane for us in Sydney, I really appreciate you on this breaking news right now.

You are watching CNN Newsroom. More news just ahead, why Poland's foreign minister says Europe is closer to war than it's been in the past 30 years.

And more on of course the breaking news about tennis star Novak Djokovic. His visa canceled by Australia. What's next in his COVID saga?



NEWTON (on camera): And an update on our breaking news out of Australia. Its immigration officer has canceled the visa of unvaccinated tennis superstar Novak Djokovic for the second time. Now the tennis world had been waiting all week for Alex Hawke's decision ahead of the Australian Open which starts on Monday.

The Serbian world number one has been training all week and is expected to fight his deportation. We will of course we'll have live reports just ahead.

To other news now, the British royal family is further distancing itself from Prince Andrew as he faces a civil sex abuse state in the United States. Now the allegations have already sidelined him from public duties. And now he is losing all of his military titles and charities.

Buckingham Palace announced the decision in a statement, writing quote, "with the Queen's approval and agreement, the Duke of York's military affiliations and royal patronages have been returned to the queen. The Duke of York will continue not to undertake public duties and is defending the case as a private citizen."

Now on top of that, royal source says that he will also use his title, his royal highness. Prince Andrew faces accusations from Virginia Giuffre who alleges that she was sexually abused by him after being trafficked by convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. The duke denies any wrongdoing.

Here's how some Britons are reacting to the move by the queen.


UNKNOWN: We are all people and people, yes, we make mistakes. They make mistakes so they should be held accountable in the same manner that we are held accountable.

UNKNOWN: You can't say he didn't know who Epstein was when he chose him was a friend. So, he deserves it.

UNKNOWN: I'm really happy that the royal family isn't defending him anymore. And that he is private citizen is defending his own case. So, justice will be served.


NEWTON (on camera): Accountability there. Anna Stewart joins me now from London. It is one of those nightmare morning, isn't it, for the British monarchy. That the tabloids are just savaging Prince Andrew. Is there a worry that by taking this move, that it makes it look as if the palace believes that the allegations may be true?

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: I mean, yes, it certainly could be argued that the royal family are jumping the gun here. Prince Andrew has denied all of these allegations, he's yet to be proven guilty. But others poll, I would say if anything, this comes a little late.

These allegations of sexual abuse have dogged Prince Andrew now for years. His conduct throughout the investigation has not been great. He's been accused of really not cooperating. And then there was that really damning interview that he gave to the BBC's news night a couple of years ago.

So clearly, this is horribly embarrassing. Not just for Prince Andrew, but also for the royal family. This has been damaging for them for years now. It is across all of the front pages of newspapers this morning. It's too early, Paula, to actually be able to obtain any here. But we've some full screen we can show you.

The Daily Mail has gone for driven out. The Guardian, Queen strips Andrew of military and royal roles. And The Daily Express, queen casts Andrew adrift for the sake of the monarchy.


What is really clear here is the royal family have essentially fired Prince Andrew from what is known as the firm, the business side of the royal family. He is of course, still a member of it but he will no longer be using that HRH title, his royal highness.

So, this is what has happened. The royalty has loss in terms of the military are many. He had many, many roles. The most significant though was colonel of the Grenadier Guards. Now, that was a role he actually took on from Prince Philip, his father in 2017. It plays a really important ceremonial role, it's one of the household division regiments. It's one that's included in the tripping of the collar.

This year is the queen's jubilee, that is in June. This would be a moment where Prince Andrew would have dressed up. Not quite as you see him there, but in a Grenadier Guards uniform. So little surprise that they are making this move as well. Well in advance of then. They're trying to create distance. But I think the next few months of this legal process will still be really damaging. Not just for Prince Andrew, but also for the queen and the rest of the family.

NEWTON: Yes. And getting to that point, Anna, if you will, for us. This case will in fact now move to trial. Is a settlement possible? Or does it mean that's pretty much out at this point.

STEWART: Well, I would say that yesterday after the news that the move to dismiss the case entirely had failed, that was a major blow for Prince Andrew and his legal team. I would say a settlement would look quite likely, rather than rolling the dice with a full trial. And also, having that really damaging discovery process. Depositions, not just of Prince Andrew, potentially his daughter, Princess Beatrice and other members of the royal family, the exchange of sensitive documents, phone logs, e-mails and so on.

However, in the last 24 hours, we've had a close source to Prince Andrew telling us that he will continue to defend himself as a private citizen of course. But they say this is a marathon, not a sprint. So, it doesn't look like they are trying to end this early.

Marry that with a comment from one of Virginia Giuffre's lawyers, he spoke to the BBC and said his client wants some indication she has a firm view of what the solution should be. And he said that he doesn't think a purely financial settlement would be of interest to her.

So that does suggest that we will get to a trial by the end of the year. Paula?

NEWTON: Yes, both sides seem to be digging in there. Anna Stewart, thanks for that update from London. I appreciate it.

Now three days of talks meant to ease tensions between Russia and Ukraine have hit a dead end, according to Russia's deputy foreign minister. And a U.S. diplomat says with Russian troops amassed along Ukraine's border, the drumbeat of war is sounding loud.

U.S. Secretary General Antonio Guterres is encouraging everyone to try and find a way to de-escalate.

CNN's Nic Robertson has details now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice over): Deadlock again. A third day of diplomacy this week. And concern about the impasse with Russia growing.

ZBIGNIEW RAU, OSCE CHAIRMAN, POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER: The risk of war is now in this area is now greater than ever before in the last 30 years.

ROBERTSON: The 57-nation globe strolling OSCE, Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe where both Ukraine and Russia are members berated by Russia for denying their demands. NATO curb its core principles, their ambassador saying, the Russian ideas we discussed in Geneva, Brussels, and here in Vienna are a moment of truth, if our principles are violated, there could be catastrophic consequences.

Russia's frustrations flowing all week. First following talks with U.S. officials in Geneva Monday.

SERGEY RYABKOV, RUSSIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER: We need ironclad, waterproof, bulletproof, legally binding guarantees, not assurances, not safeguards. Guarantees.

ROBERTSON: Next talks with NATO in Brussels Wednesday. Again, insisting NATO rolled back to pre-1997 lines and deny Ukraine and others membership. While refusing to engage in NATO's offer of compromise.

JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: NATO allies have today made it clear on which issues we are ready to sit down and discuss and make compromises, talk to the Russians on arms control and other areas.

ROBERTSON: Right now, the ball is firmly in the Kremlin's court now.

STOLTENBERG: Yes, we will -- we are waiting for their answer to our (Inaudible) conveniency in the meeting addressing a wider important issue for European security.

ROBERTSON: The answer not coming. And Brussels --

NATO secretary general today said that the ball is in the Kremlin's court. Your turn to answer.


ROBERTSON: What is clear is that these talks are far from over. This is quite the thickest diplomatic difficulty that NATO and Russia and the United States have faced in many years.


So bad that by talks in Vienna, diplomats turning to language rarely used in Europe.

MICHAEL CARPENTER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE OSCE: We are facing a crisis in European Security. The drumbeat of war is sounding loud and the rhetoric has gotten rather shrill.

ROBERTSON: What's next? Little doubt here. War or peace or just plain diplomacy is in the hands of Russia's president.

WENDY SHERMAN, U.S. DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: I think there's only one person who knows what Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, wants to do. And that's the president of Russia.

ROBERTSON: The clock is ticking. Putin's battle-ready army forward deployed near Ukraine's border, will eventually need to go back to base.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Brussels, Belgium.


NEWTON (on camera): And we have no idea of course if it's related to the breakdown in talks with Russia. But Ukraine is being hit with a massive cyberattack on government web sites.

We want to head live to Kiev and CNN's senior international correspondent, Sam Kiley.

I mean, this just adds, it must add to the palpable sense of fear among Ukrainians right now. Do they feel like giving in at all to any Russian demands at this point in time, would really significantly undermine their very sovereignty at this point?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, on the cyberattack, this is a denial-of-service attacks. A kind of disruptive attack on web sites, government web sites attributed to what they are calling it themselves Ukrainian nationalists. Essentially backing the Russian-backed rebels in the east of the country it seems. Not the sorts of act that you would expect the cyber wizards of the Kremlin to be able to come up with. So, it's disruptive and irritating more than anything else.

But it comes again, as you say, rising tensions. So, this country, though, as I heard from the deputy prime minister yesterday, and she leads the negotiations within the E.U. and European Union. This is a country that she kept insisting during the interview, that is already in a state of war. You can't raise the tensions really any higher. But this is how the interview went, Paula.


KILEY: Do you want to see now more military hardware coming in as a deterrence? Do you want to see some serious deliveries of some serious kits?

OLGA STEFANISHYNA, UKRAINIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Let's make it clear that we, as Ukrainians, we understand that no other nation would fight for Ukraine on its territory. But what we understand also clearly, that if Europe wants to sleep well and to feel that their democracy is safe, they should invest in Ukraine's defense. They should make sure that our army is twice as capable as it can be to deter and to fight against Russian aggression.

KILEY: Why do you think he's doing this?

STEFANISHYNA: Well, I think first of all, it's very much positively serves to his internal narrative. Because look, this was the leader who has been known in his country as the one ignored by the democratic world, by some -- by somebody who is not been seen as a counterpart for the dialogue.

Like now, immediately, he is the leader presenting -- presenting the big country showing that he is trying to establish new spheres of influence.

KILEY: So, do you think he's bluffing? He's bluffed his way to international, multilateral prominence. Is that really his endgame, he doesn't really have the intent to send tanks into Kiev?

STEFANISHYNA: Well, I don't think that it's -- it's of his interest. Because basically sending tanks to Kiev would be the end of his game. Of course, we could have a fully-fledged war in the center of Europe and Ukraine will fight against this aggression. But that would be his end. Nothing would follow after this military aggression. But before this military aggression, he has huge room for maneuver to raise the stakes and to play in the spheres of what he is allowed to play.


KIELEY: Now Paula, if Vladimir Putin whether decide to play in the battlefield of Ukraine, as she kept pointing out there, the Russians already on Ukrainian territory have been since 2014. But they are asking for yet more help. Very relieved for the strong stance taken against the Russians insistence that NATO reject any future expansion into east European countries, or indeed, into Ukraine, Paula.

NEWTON: Sam Kiley in Kiev for us. Thanks so much. I appreciate it.

Now for the second time Australia has revoked the visa of tennis superstar Novak Djokovic. But will the decision hold up in court. And how is the tennis community reacting. We'll unpack all of that next.

And later, why French school teachers go out on strike over COVID protocols.




PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Breaking news now on that bombshell decision from Australia to revoke the visa of Novak Djokovic. We can tell you now that Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Australia has released a statement indicating that Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected. He said that this is what the minister is doing in taking that action

today. And he means the action, of course, taken by the immigration minister to as we say, revoke that visa.

Now, we have been saying, Novak Djokovic, you see him there has been determined to compete for a non-president 21st Grand Slam title that would've been on Monday when the Australian Open begins. Djokovic has already shown that he will have the will to try and fight on and many expect him to continue to fight this decision.

The Immigration Administer, Alex Hawke in a statement not long ago reading, "Today I exercise 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."

And he goes on to say, "The Morrison government is firmly committed to protecting Australia's borders particularly in relation to the COVID- 19 pandemic."

The "World Sports," Patrick Snell has been following all of this, not just in the last few minutes and hours but days now. We are waiting quite a while for this decision. And Patrick, in terms of the tennis world, this just gets more and more dramatic. And I guess the legal limbo, because we are so in legal limbo, it must be affecting the entire tournament.

PATRICK SNELL, CNN SPORTS REPORTER (on camera): Yes. You're quite right, Paula. We've been tracking this every step of the way haven't we, in recent days. And you know, we're still waiting to see what happens next, as the saga continues. But you're quite right.

You know, there are 127 other players on the men side of the draw. And that has to be at least from (inaudible) sense of relief that at least we've got to this point that those same players can focus on the year's first calendar slam in hand. The first clinic calendar Grand Slam of 2022.

You know, we had Rafael Nadal, the Spanish legend who's also going by the way for a 21st Grand Slam title. I wonder what he privately thinks of all this, Paula. I'll tell you what, because his chances as of right now have gone up dramatically. Roger Federer, also on 20 Grand Slam titles. He's not competing this year down under the Aussie Open due to injury, but it just a question of reaction.

Rafael Nadal, his words come to mind from earlier in the week. He described the whole thing as a circus. And before that he even said that to some degree, Djokovic have brought this on himself by refusing or not getting vaccinated. Not even talking about his vaccination status.

So, I mentioned about the impact on the tournament, he's chances will go up quite dramatically. But from a Djokovic perspective, and his quest for 21. What must he privately be thinking? Because remember last year's U.S. Open final in New York City, there we all thought the state was set for number 21.


What happen in that men's final? He loses his straight sets to the Russian star Daniil Medvedev, but at that point, if I can take us back a few months. The narrative switch to, oh, when he is going to go and get the job done in Australia, earlier in 2022. He's the king of Melbourne. He was going, Paula, for a 10th Australian Open title.

And as of right now that is simply not happening. As of right now, it's a fascinating situation and it's being fluid. And we're still tracking at every step of the way.

NEWTON: Absolutely, and still, of course, waiting for the reaction from Novak Djokovic himself, which we are standing by for. Patrick Snell, thank you so much.

Tracey Holmes is the host "The Ticket" podcast and is with us now from Sydney. So good to have you with us, as this breaking news is unfolding. You know, the government likely had to stiffen its backbone for this one. We just heard from the Prime Minister saying, look, we had to protect the sacrifices of Australians. I mean, how do you see this? And how do you think that this will continue to play out in the coming hours?

TRACEY HOLMES, HOST, THE TICKET PODCAST (on camera): Yes, there's still a long way to go in the coming hours including most immediately, I guess we'll hear the news that Novak Djokovic is on his way back into detention. Into some detention top facility, either the (Inaudible), where he was kept before his court hearing on Monday gone, or whether he's taken to another similar detention facility.

And then of course, his legal team has even every indication that they will be appealing this. They will be hoping that a judge would hear it as a matter of urgency, perhaps over the weekend. You could possibly bring out an injunction, and allow Novak Djokovic to compete in the Australian Open. Even while the case may progress.

We've heard a number of experts already commenting on this legal experts -- saying that when you have a situation like this where somebody's character has come under investigation, and that is the reason that he will be expelled from the country, many of those cases, one on appeal.

So, it will be interesting with so much more still to play out, and of course the ramifications for all of the other players in the tournament. And hoping they will get some certainty today but that is not the situation.

NEWTON: The point there, they had the draw. He's in the seat. You know, it's already all set up and now everyone is kind of on tender hooks, waiting to see what will happen on the situation. I have to ask you, in this cases at times, when the minister takes a move like this, the banned can be for three years. That would mean that there's the possibility Novak Djokovic would never play in the Australian Open again. I mean, you've been covering these issues for so long there, how do you think that would be perceived in Australia right now? HOLMES: Look, these things always change overtime, don't them. So at

the moment, you've got the whole -- all of the emotion and the heat that is involved in the original uproar, was all about the fact that Novak Djokovic who was not vaccinated, was given an exemption to come into Australia.

At the time, particularly in Victoria and Melbourne where people had gone through the most austere past two years in battling COVID and the restrictions that have been put on them. Now thinking that some had arrived, it was time to go out and celebrate, but of course, the Omicron variant is just ripping through Australian society at the moment. As it is elsewhere around the world.

So, there was this anxiety around an elite player being given this exception to come into play and not be vaccinated. So that kind of emotion also subsides as it turns into emotion about other things. And people will stop to look at it differently as all of the information starts to filter out.

Plus, we have, you know, the impact from overseas. Many people thinking it's a very heavy-handed way of handling this sort of situation. And Novak Djokovic himself, you know, never wanted to come back to Australia, having gone through what he's gone through. So, all of this, still to come and still a lot of guesswork involve and exactly how it's going to unfold.

NEWTON: Yeah. And certainly the government's handling of this has been under scrutiny there by people in Australia. But I have to ask you, just in your position having covered this. Do you believe that tennis Australia and the ATP actually bear some responsibility for some of this as well?

HOLMES: Look. Again, this is all going to be in the detail. And so I think there is nobody really reclaimed hands in this. Not anybody. If you're talking about Novak Djokovic. He thought he was coming in. He thought he had exemptions. He followed all the rules he was given. That's what the judge said on Monday. In quashing the original visa disqualification.

Tennis Australia officials have been working incredibly hard for many long hours, days, and nights, and weeks and months in trying to get this right. Because our border restrictions and everything that was required, kept changing.


So every time it change, they had to issue other advice. They kept going backwards and forwards with various government departments. And then of course, you have got the overlapping departments themselves from immigration, to health, to border force, and the Victorian government in there as well. Who has been at odds with the stance taken by the federal government for the past two years in combating COVID. So, all of these things have just created a perfect storm for Novak Djokovic to walk right into.

NEWTON: Yeah and that bureaucracy you described, I think many people around the world can really relate to how maddening it is. And here we are, right, with this kind of controversy and distraction.

Tracy Holmes, thank you so much for your perspective for us, live there for us in Sydney.

HOLMES: Thank you, Paula.

NEWTON: Coming up right here on "CNN Newsroom." Europe continues to suffer under the wave of the Omicron variant. I'll speak with an epidemiologists in Germany as the country reaches record daily infections.


NEWTON: And to the latest on the pandemic. Now many schools in France were forced to close Thursday, after a large number of teachers went on strike. They were protesting COVID protocols at French schools, saying restrictions are constantly changing and putting their lives in danger.

Germany meantime is recommending booster shots for all adolescents from 12 to 17 years old. And this comes as Germany reported a daily case record for a third day in a row. On Friday, that number was 92,000 cases.

For more on all this, we want to bring in our Barbie Nadeau, whose joining us from Rome. Another record breaking day, right, of cases in Europe. And protests in many places to accompany those numbers.

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR (on camera): That's right. You know, we see this time and time again. France, you know, these teachers, these educators really feel like their safety and health is being put at risk every time these rules and regulations change. And they say that instability for the classroom too, you know. If there is a positive test case in the class, they got a test some kids, some kids go home. All of that leads to instability. These teachers want some sort of guidance in what they can do.

In Germany, you know, the focus is on punishing those people who haven't been vaccinated and boosting those who have. We got a call for, as you said, you know, kids 12 to 17, again (inaudible). Getting those kids boosted. So that they can stay in school and continue their education, Paula.

One Yeah. In terms of what has been going on in places like Germany, with these record setting case numbers. You know the issue about vaccine mandates around Europe has been hotly debated topic. I know where you are in Italy, they are trying to get a little tougher with it.

NADEAU: That is absolutely right. As of February 1st, everyone over the age of 50 will have to be vaccinated by law. And if they are not, they face fines. If they try to go to work, or they will lose their jobs. You know, all this again, is what the health authorities across Europe say is the only strategy. The only tool that they have in their arsenal right now is vaccines.


And they want everybody to get vaccinated and boosted. And try to keep people out of the hospitals. You know, it doesn't seem like they are going to be able to contain the spread of the Omicron variant. We've seen these numbers just incredible, numbers across Europe. But the vaccines will keep people out of the hospitals. And that is what they are hoping will get people. Get us through this latest wave before whatever comes next, Paula?

NEWTON: Yeah, and Barbie, it is what we are all hoping to have. Barbie Nadeau, good to see you. Thanks for that update from Rome for us.

Now, the Winter Olympics in Beijing get underway in three weeks. But according to a CNN analysis, direct airline flights between the U.S. and China are likely to be suspended for at least part of that time. Because of China's COVID rules.

Now that is happening as officials fight growing COVID outbreaks in multiple cities. They include Shanghai, where a traveler from the U.S. apparently broke quarantine rules.

David Culver is in Beijing with more from us. These latest travel restrictions, obviously on the minds of many. You know, David, just speaking to you though, I cannot help but really remember, it is now two years since you have been covering this going forward. And China is still continuing, right, with this zero COVID policy.

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Yeah, right, about this time, two years ago, we are talking about that then mysterious illness and preparing a trip into Wuhan. And here we are now, almost reverting back, Paula, to where we were about two years ago. When you talk about just how strict some of the lockdowns are and some of the measures that are being taken. And much of that is because of what you mentioned. The Winter Olympics.

This was supposed to be the moment that Beijing was going to show to the rest of the world. That China's very strict. Some considered it to be extreme and harsh containment measures are effective. However, now they are dealing with surges and outbreaks across this country.

And when you look like the numbers. You are talking about some cases, single digit increases. For example, in Shanghai, when you have five new reported cases and you compare to what you are just talking about with Barbie in Europe, and that's tens of thousands of new cases. It seems almost laughable.

But when you look at the policy that is in place here, it's a zero COVID policy. And so China has no tolerance for one case. It considers that to be too many, and they're going to continue those measures certainly through the Winter Olympics.

But in Shanghai, you have this one incident in particular that has sparks some real concern, because Shanghai has been one of these places that while having the strict measures in place, has tried to balance it, they've tried to allow some freedom and comfort in addition to keeping people safe.

Well, that seems to have backfired with this most recent case being a U.S. traveler. A person who came in, went through the 14 days of quarantine. Did seven days of the self-monitoring and isolation. But during that seven day period, according to health officials, went to a bubble tea shop and then infected four other people.

So, now heavy restrictions in place, certainly in Shanghai. And people coming from that area, along with many other cities in China. In fact, you have 20 million plus people in extreme lockdown scenarios. That is confined to their homes. Food and basic necessities have to be delivered to them.

And you cannot expect this to back down as we near the Winter Olympics. In fact, Beijing, where we are, has been a fortress of sorts. They are trying to keep a COVID free. And as a part of that, they are reducing the inbound flights. And that is something that I think is really concerning, particularly for those traveling from places like the U.S., Paula.

NEWTON: Yeah, and I know you've been looking closely what those Olympic protocols are going to look like. I mean, we keep hearing this discussion of a bubble. But as you just pointed out, somebody went to get bubble tea and apparently, according to Chinese authorities, infected four other people. I mean from what you've seen, what is, you know, really forthcoming for athletes and all of those people supporting them in the games.

CULVER: I think if there's one thing that is going to be guaranteed is that is there will be a successful show that will be put on and for the most part, those who are going to be coming in, including the athletes, the Olympic personnel, the media. They are going to be kept in a very strict close loop system.

I mean, the initial concerns here in China wasn't that the virus is going to be spreading around China. It was that it was going to be imported in with the folks who are part of the Olympic entourage, if you will. That was the real worry.

And now it seems like they are battling COVID that will likely be inside the bubble, brought in and outside. But Beijing has a way of really coming down in a very strict manner. To the point where this closed loop system, where it's not going to be necessarily one physical bubble, but rather different areas that are designated across the city and up into the mountains, just outside of Beijing that will be part of the so-called closed loop system.

And it's even so strict, Paula, that for example, they are saying that if you are seeing one of the vehicles that is shuttling people between the venues get into the car accident. If you are not part of that closed loop system, don't even help. They have dedicated ambulances that will respond to handle them.


NEWTON: And we are certainly hoping that the infections actually are as close to zero as China can make them be, as those games approach

David Culver, reporting from Beijing for us. Thanks so much.

Now, Hong Kong strict COVID policy is taking a toll on the city's economy. It is impacting air cargo and imports and raising prices on much-needed consumer goods.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout has our report.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Empty terminals, bored staff, and flight displaced with cancellation after cancellation. Two years of pandemic have emptied what was once one of the busiest airport in the world.

As a city tightens restrictions amid an Omicron outbreak, flagship carrier Cathay Pacific is slashing flights. With air cargo capacity cut to 20 percent of pre-pandemic levels is putting pressure on supplies of fresh produce and a plethora of goods not made in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Transport and Housing Bureau tells CNN, it has been closely communicating with the aviation industry with a view to maintaining smooth air cargo services into and out of Hong Kong and addressing the basic daily needs of society, while safeguarding public health.

The city's economy is highly dependent on trade. Relying on imports for food and consumer goods. And with the squeeze on cargo, industry experts have warned of a sharp rise in prices in what was already one of the most expensive cities in the world.

Hong Kong's logistics trade body chief says shipping costs is expected to go up 20 to 30 percent. And such increases will be passed on to Hong Kong consumers. Cathay says, the sharp cargo reductions will likely remain in place until March. The announcement follows temporary flight bans on several countries, including the U.S. and U.K. And new quarantine requirements for aircrew.

Hong Kong is holding firm, to a zero COVID policy. Restrict quarantines and border restrictions. And while the tough policy has saved lives, it is also isolated the once thriving business and logistics hub. In November, FedEx said that it would close its crew based in the city. Even Airmail, the countries like the U.K. has been suspended. International trade groups have warned, Hong Kong could lose talent and investment, unless it relaxes its restrictions.

BRENDAN SOBIE, INDEPENDENT AVIATION ANALYST: I remain concerned about Hong Kong's position as a hub. Long term. Because, of the very strict policies and strict zero COVID strategy of Hong Kong and its lack of recovery. So far, basically the gap between Hong Kong and other hub airports in Asia Pacific is widening.

LU STOUT: The Hong Kong government maintains the curbs are essential for public health and to allow the city to reopen to mainland China. CARRIE LAM, HONG KONG CHIEF EXECUTIVE (through translator): Well,

there is nothing we can do, because we have to fight the epidemic.

LAH: A once glittering international finance center is now locked in a zero COVID bubble. So residents make do with what they have. Like Richard Ekkebus, a two-star Michelin chef at one of the most celebrated restaurants in Hong Kong. Working with a more limited and price year supply of fresh produce.

RICHARD EKKEBUS, A TWO-STAR MICHELIN CHEF: Pricing has gone up significantly, up to 35 percent, due to shortage of supplies. Shipping rates that went up tenfold. So, that definitely has significantly impacted price structure in everything we get in Hong Kong.

LU STOUT: He now uses spiny lobster from Hong Kong, instead of French blue from Britain.

So locally sourced Hong Kong lobster is still worth to Michelin stars.

EKKEBUS: Absolutely.

LU STOUT: Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.


NEWTON: And we will be right back with more news in a moment.



NEWTON: An update for you on our breaking news out of Australia. It's Immigration Minister has canceled the visa of unvaccinated tennis superstar Novak Djokovic for the second time. Alex Hawke says he used his personal power to do so, because it is in the public's best interest.

And just now, Prime Minister Scott Morrison weighed in, saying Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected. Australia has been under heavy COVID restrictions during this pandemic. Djokovic is expected to challenge the decision in court, ahead of the Australian Open, which starts on Monday.

Now, it is been a busy week for space exploration and space competition. Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit successfully fired its third mission to put satellites into orbit. The company system makes use of a lightweight rocket that launches from beneath the wings of a modified Boeing 747. The video of this is incredible. The plane called Cosmic Girl took off from Long Beach California on Thursday. It carried the small batch of satellites for various organizations including the U.S. military and NASA-backed University project.

Now, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is also making news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNKNOWN: Ignition and lift off.


NEWTON: There it is blasting off from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Thursday. The reusable rocket carrying a payload of 105 commercial and government satellites up to space. Later, the first stage of the Falcon 9 made a smooth landing back near the launch site. Now, the company says that the launch was the third mission of its kind. Part of their rideshare program for smaller satellites.

And that does it for me for now, I'm Paula Newton. I want to thank you for your company, but stick around, I will be right back with more "CNN Newsroom." And that includes our breaking news out of Australia and the cancellation of Novak Djokovic's visa. Be back with us in a moment.