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Australian Court Hearing Novak Djokovic's Appeal Of Visa Revocation; All Four Hostages In A Texas Synagogue Have Been Released Unharmed; Millions In U.S. In Path Of Severe Winter Weather; Study Reveals Omicron Inherently Milder In Children Under 5; Australian Court Renders Ruling In Djokovic's Visa Case. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired January 16, 2022 - 01:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers, joining us here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. Appreciate your company.

We continue to track that breaking news out of Texas, where all hostages have been rescued after a standoff at a Texas synagogue. This happened at the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville near Ft. Worth, the hostages held for nearly half a day after an attacker stormed into a small worship service on Saturday.

Late Saturday, CNN crews on the scene heard a loud bang and then gunfire. The attacker was killed, all remaining hostages freed. Moments later, governor Greg Abbott tweeting out, prayers have been answered, announcing all hostages were out alive and safe. Here's how a police official described what led to the rescue.


CHIEF MICHAEL MILLER, COLLEYVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT: The FBI called out the hostage rescue team, which is an elite hostage rescue force, out of Quantico, Virginia. They immediately, when the SAC called, they got on a plane and flew out here. I think they brought 60 or 70 people from Washington, D.C., to come and help with this situation.

Some time around 9:00 pm today, this evening, the HR team, the hostage rescue team breached the synagogue. They rescued the three hostages and the subject is deceased.


HOLMES: CNN's Ed Lavandera was standing about half a kilometer away while the standoff was playing out. He heard that explosion and he filed this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nearly 11 hours after a suspect entered the Beth Israel synagogue here in Colleyville, Texas, we have learned that the suspect is dead and that all four of the hostages are alive and well.

One of the hostages had been released earlier in the day around 5 o'clock Central time. But law enforcement officials say they have identified the suspect but they are not ready to announce who that person is, as they continue their investigation into the motives behind this attack on this synagogue.

It was a frightening and harrowing day for members of this synagogue, which is a small synagogue here in Colleyville, about 150 members. They were watching desperately and frantically throughout the day, waiting for and praying for this outcome that they saw unfold here this evening.

Many members of the congregation that we spoke with say that members had not been attending the services here at this synagogue because of COVID pandemic restrictions, that it was -- most people were at home, watching on the livestream.

And that is where they began to see all of this unfold just before 11 o'clock in the morning. And they heard what was described as the ranting and raving and harrowing screaming coming from the suspect inside the synagogue. But tonight, all of them celebrating the fact that four of their synagogue members are now alive and well -- back to you.


HOLMES: I want to turn to CNN's national security analyst, Juliette Kayyem, she served as an assistant secretary of U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Juliette, let's talk about, in your experience, we heard from the news conference that the negotiators seemed to have been the heroes of the day, according to the FBI spokesman there. And talked about how it ebbed and flowed and got intense at some times.

What sorts of things, in your experience, would predicate a decision to go in?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So just going back, from the beginning of the day, there was this sort of caricature of how law enforcement works or at least professional law enforcement.

They're just going to run in and everything has to be fast and resolved. And the truth is, for a hostage negotiator, in most instances, because it's not an active shooter situation -- those are two different situations -- in a hostage situation you're really trying to buy times.

We call it you're trying to extend the runway and give more time.

Why are you buying time? [01:05:00]

KAYYEM: The hostage taker may give up, he may release a hostage as we saw earlier today. He may tire or he may become more agitated.

But even if he becomes more agitated, that's giving the FBI -- basically they were on the ground for about 8 hours or 9 hours -- a lot of time to figure out how to get into the building and get the hostages out safely, because those are precision operations, right?

The boom, the entry and the protection of the hostages and, as we know now, the killing of the perpetrator, so that's basically what happened behind closed doors, rightfully so.

You have the continuing negotiation, the buying of a long period of time and then the entry. What triggers it may either be -- it's either the hostage has exposed a vulnerability and they're going to come in or they've lost contact with the hostage taker and want to get in relatively quickly.

HOLMES: We also heard they're going to be having an investigation, of course, a global investigation,, according to the FBI.

What sorts of things are investigators going to be looking for?

KAYYEM: So it's -- if he was animated by the Siddiqui aura, let's say, the sort of radicalization that comes from supporting Siddiqui, who's a female Al Qaeda member, someone who is in jail in Texas -- so we don't know if there's a relation there, the fact she happens to be in jail there.

So was he radicalized because of just her cult-like status?

Or was he radicalized to do this, to sort of operationalize her sort of anti-Semitism?

Because, like you, I don't see how you separate her from the anti- Semitism of targeting a synagogue or whether he was targeted or told to do something like this.

I have to say, just based on the evidence so far and my experience, I can tell you -- so he does not seem terribly sophisticated visually, from what we're told from congregants. He's apologizing, animated, doesn't seem in control.

He appears to have no exit strategy, chooses a synagogue that -- that he claims was because it was near an airport. So there was no reason to have chosen it except for geography. So they may believe he was both radicalized alone and acted alone.

That is not to negate the radicalization that is occurring within terrorist organizations or within the jihadist organizations to target synagogues globally, which we're just seeing throughout the United States and the world.

HOLMES: Yes. And there's a lot we're going to learn, a lot we don't know yet. But it doesn't seem massively so sophisticated. As you say, a small synagogue in the suburbs, as Ed Lavandera was saying. You know, that just doesn't sound like it was particularly well thought out. And I guess that points to the difficulty of stopping such things as well.

KAYYEM: Yes. And also to the fear.

In other words, you do things in your life you know are sort of higher profile, right?

You go to a big Super Bowl, you sort of -- there's some expectation you might be increasing your vulnerability. But you know, you join a small synagogue in the suburbs in Texas, with 100 members or families.

And it's that vulnerability that terror actually sort of breeds off of, that, as a Jewish American, you're not safe anywhere. And we hear this through the Jewish community. I work with many synagogues in terms of their safety and security, in terms of ensuring that they are safer.

And the challenge or the horror of this for the community and those I speak to -- and my children are Jewish -- is synagogues are meant to be open. In other words, most religious institutions are. They want people of their own faith to feel welcome. But they also want people of other faiths to be welcome and understand them.

So the more you are forcing synagogues or any religious entity to become hard targets, right, you're also denying them their ability to practice their faith. And I think that's what you're hearing, much more eloquently than me, from members of the Jewish community.

But certainly from a security perspective, there is a loss of going from being a soft target to a hard target that you can't measure in security terms, right?

And I think that's what you're hearing today.

HOLMES: Yes, great analysis. I mean, they said they were processing the scene now.

What are they going to be looking for?

KAYYEM: So a couple -- so I think the most important thing is, who was he?


KAYYEM: What is his social media or internet access?

How did he get there?

How did he choose that synagogue?

So just basically -- in weird ways, these are such elevated events. But then they become quite traditional in their investigation. So you're going to have both the social media review, who was he in contact with as well as family, friends and others.

Throughout the day, there was speculation about who he was and his relationship to Siddiqui. We're not -- we don't know anything yet. Remember she -- it's hard to explain her status in radicalization circles, because she's both a woman and there's so few women and she's an educated woman.

She's viewed as a -- Siddiqui is the woman jailed in Texas, who -- this perpetrator alleges he wanted her free. She's viewed as being unfairly or not accurately convicted and has become sort of a galvanizing force for a lot of the radical elements within -- not within Islam but within violent Islam, that would do something like this.

HOLMES: Yes. Great analysis, Juliette. Thanks, my friend. I appreciate it.

KAYYEM: Good night.


HOLMES: Will tennis star Novak Djokovic be allowed to stay in Australia?

Or will he be deported?

We'll take a look at the case Australian judges are deciding right now.





HOLMES: The Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic is waiting for a verdict in his visa appeal. Three Australian federal court judges debating his case right now, trying to come up with a decision.

It's Djokovic's last attempt to stay in the country after his visa was canceled a second time due to concerns the unvaccinated player's presence could, according to the government, spur a rise in anti- vaccine sentiment.

The court's decision will determine whether or not Djokovic can participate in the Australian Open in Melbourne, which starts Monday.

For more, let's bring in Ben Rothenberg in Melbourne. He's the senior editor of "Racquet" magazine and host of the "No Challenges Remaining" podcast.

Good to see you, Ben.

What do we know? The judges are still deliberating, right?

Any indicators to when the decision might be handed down?

BEN ROTHENBERG, SENIOR EDITOR, "RACQUET": We believe it will be today. That's the sort of assurance we have, there will be decision today, basically whether Djokovic has won or lost his challenge to this ruling.

Then we will get some vague detail as to which of the grounds by which they were challenging it was granted. We are finding -- through reasoning from a published statement from the courts tomorrow. But they want to have a quick ruling today.

The courts have really been accommodating to the tennis timeline there. They are rushing things through Friday night, Saturday and Sunday schedules here because Djokovic is scheduled to play on Monday. He scheduled for the second night match.

And the court says, they're making clear, they are amendable if he's going to be able to play, they want him to be able to play.

HOLMES: When you think about it -- and we've talked about this a lot over the last week or so -- what are the concerns -- you try to imagine, after all of this, Djokovic walks out on to Centre Court, his first appearance.

What kind of reception might he get?

ROTHENBERG: It's going to be heated. It's going to be a volatile atmosphere. Because he has a ton of supporters here or a good number of supporters here, who will show up in big numbers. There's a large Serbian community in Australia.

But the Serbian community has been very loyal behind him here and will turn out for sure, trying to counterbalance but will be a great deal of anger and resentment from the sort of Australian public in general.

There was a poll in the "Melbourne Age" today, 71 percent of people polled, in a poll of about 1,600 people, said that they want Djokovic to be deported. Only 14 percent said they wanted him to stay and play.

So it's pretty clear that Australians are not looking forward to him competing in this tournament. But the judges will have the ultimate say.

HOLMES: When it comes to the politics of this, and politics are always at play and there's an election not too far off in Australia. It could be argued that the government's actions, both the confusion over the visa and the subsequent court actions have fired things up as well.

ROTHENBERG: Yes, and they really have changed their argument pretty considerably from the first round of appeals. When it was all about the paperwork, did Djokovic have the right exemption, really, the grounds they are arguing now are different, they're ideological. He could be a corrosive influence on Australian society, he could in

some ways influence the antivax movement onto greater traction here among the community. It's not so common in Australia as much as it is in America, but it's a strong community that has embraced Djokovic as an icon.

Those are the arguments that the government was making at the hearing today, that this guy's here's influence here as a champion could sow a lot of support for this movement, that they don't want to have -- they don't want it to have support. They wanted to be as small as possible in order for public health to remain successful.

HOLMES: Great to see you, Ben. I appreciate your reporting on all of this. We'll check back in with you when we get the decision.



HOLMES: Local and federal law enforcement are being praised for Saturday's hostage rescue in Texas. Coming up, former CIA operative Bob Baer explains why it's so difficult to predict these attacks and to get everyone out alive.





HOLMES: Welcome back to our viewers all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

We want to recap our breaking news out of Texas, where hostages, held for some 10 hours at a synagogue, have now been rescued, alive and safe. All of this happening at the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville near Ft. Worth, Texas.

We know the hostage-taker is dead. We don't know much else about him. It's believed he stormed into the synagogue during a livestreamed worship service. One of the hostages was released a bit later before law enforcement decided they had to go in, in order to save the others.

CNN crews on the scene heard a loud bang and then gunfire. Minutes later, governor Greg Abbott tweeting, prayers have been answered and all hostages were out. President Biden also praising law enforcement for a job well done, saying he's grateful everyone is safe.


HOLMES: Now Bob Baer is CNN intelligence and security analyst and joins me now. He's also a former CIA operative and author of the book, "The Perfect Kill: 21 Laws for Assassins." Bob, first of all, in your experience, what sort of things would have

triggered the hostage rescue team to go in when they did?

Who makes that call and what would have precipitated it?

BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Well, the negotiators would have -- and the SAC on the ground there; it's not something you defer to Washington -- I think what they realized probably fairly on is who this guy was and he was unstable.

Let's not forget the FBI would prefer not to kill anybody.


BAER: Because a hostage rescue can never be 100 percent assured. You just don't know what's going on. The hostages could be moved at the last second before they go in.

If they're using flashbang grenades and if he's moved to a different room and he hasn't been stunned, he could kill all the hostages, which is the last thing the SWAT teams want.

So I think they were probably getting very nervous toward the end. And they could have outwaited this guy until he -- as amazing as it sounds, until he fell asleep. But they decided he was so unstable they had to go in and use weapons.

HOLMES: We heard the FBI say it's very likely this situation would have ended badly if not for the skills of negotiators. Speak about their role. They're on the phone with this guy for hours.

And according the to the FBI, it was high frequency in duration. It stopped from time to time. The relationship ebbed and flowed, was intense at times.

What are these negotiators trying to do?

BAER: Well, they want to know what he wants, first of all. And if he wants Siddiqui released -- we don't know that for sure -- the hostage negotiator is going to say, well, what's going to happen if we do?

What will happen to her?

And they'll carry this on so there's some hope in his mind, so he doesn't start shooting the hostages. And they do -- they practice this so much and do it so well. And that's sort of what they devote their careers, to is talking to people on the phone who are --


HOLMES: It's a career, isn't it?

BAER: They're just -- and it's the same way with the shooters, the assaulters go in. It's amazing the amount of training they go through to act quickly because when you're firing assault weapons in a closed- in area, the chances of hitting a hostage, unless you're very well trained are very high. And they know that.

HOLMES: Yes, it's a pretty specialist job. And the other thing he said too they're going to be obviously investigating his contacts and said it's going to be a global effort.

How do you see that playing out?

What are they going to be looking for?

BAER: Well, it's the international calls, first of all. And they're going to be getting into his Facebook. Earlier I said that, you know, there's probably no sign that he was violent on Facebook. But since then people have told me, probably they'll come up with something.

But let's not forget Facebook is a fire hose so he may have a record on, you know, social media. But what they really want to look is if he were recruited by somebody overseas. And so the first thing they're going to do is look at international calls to Pakistan.

If, in fact -- we actually don't know for sure that he was a radical Islamist at this point. So they're going to look into that.

And who does he follow?

Is it somebody in Afghanistan, central Asia?

We just don't know at this point. If he was encouraged to attack this synagogue, that's what they're looking for.

HOLMES: It's interesting, too; when you look at it, a small synagogue in a suburb in a quiet part of town or city in Texas, it doesn't seem terribly well organized, does it?

I mean, what were your thoughts on that?

Did you get that sense?

And the other thing, too, when it comes to someone like this and looking into his Facebook or whatever, how hard is it to actually ID someone before they do something?

BAER: It's very hard because there's so many crazy people on the internet, Michael. It's amazing. And, you know, you're just going through them all the time and you run these people down and it turns out they're sort of harmless.

And, you know, unless this guy has committed an act of violence in the past, it's not something they can put together at the last minute -- and especially if he did it at the spur of the moment.

And you're absolutely right; it was not well organized. It was -- I wouldn't be surprised if he's from somewhere in that area. I doubt that he traveled there. You know, he could have hit another target. So he wakes up one morning and says, this is a great act of justice and I've got to do it now. Of course, there's something wrong in his head.

HOLMES: Yes, Bob Baer, always good to have your expertise in situations like this. Appreciate your time. Thanks, Bob.

BAER: Thank you.


HOLMES: Now we're tracking a massive winter storm plowing across the U.S. It's expected to hit many places that don't typically see this kind of weather. We'll check the latest forecast -- straight ahead.





HOLMES: Tens of millions of people in the eastern third of the United States are bracing for potentially devastating snow, ice and freezing rain. There's a huge storm system crossing the region.



HOLMES: All right, New Zealand's prime minister says tsunami waves from an underwater volcanic eruption made a significant impact on Tonga. Waves crashed ashore on Saturday, flooding coastal areas, damaging shops and breaching the grounds of Tonga's royal palace.

Authorities still working to assess the full scope of the damage. Fortunately, there are no reports of injuries or deaths at this time. The enormous eruption spewed ash and smoke more than 12 miles or 20 kilometers into the atmosphere.

Just have a look at that image there, shock waves rippling across the Pacific with tsunami waves hitting parts of Hawaii and Japan. Many waves were in the 1 meter range or so. Places in Japan got waves more than 2 meters high but advisories were just lifted there.

The impact reached all the way to California but tsunami advisories have been called off for Oregon, Washington and Alaska. And we'll be right back after a break.





HOLMES: We're waiting for a decision in the Novak Djokovic court case and we will take you there live when it begins. Meanwhile, we'll continue. Hospitals across the U.S. in crisis, as intensive care units fill up

and COVID cases escalate. The U.S. crossed 65 million total coronavirus cases on Saturday. That number has been fueled in recent days by the fast-spreading Omicron variant.

But there's perhaps some hope. New York governor Kathy Hochul says her state is turning the corner on the winter surge after a peak positivity rate of 23 percent on January 3rd, dropping to just over 16 percent on Friday.

A new study says the Omicron variant is inherently milder in children under 5. It found a 70 percent reduction in hospitalizations, ICU admissions and mechanical ventilation among children infected with Omicron compared to those with Delta.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated mask guidelines. They now advise people, quote, "wear the most protective masks in crowded places." Health experts say the most protective mask is the N95. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the United States, we are being drenched with Omicron a variant so contagious that it is caused daily cases to double in the past two weeks. Now just like you would put on a better raincoat in a bad storm, we need better masks more than ever. Our best bet, an N95 mask.

AARON COLLINS, MECHANICAL ENGINEER: You're going to wear a mask, wear the best mask possible.

GUPTA (voice-over): Aaron Collins, a self-proclaimed mask nerd, is a mechanical engineer with a background in aerosol science.

COLLINS: There are significant improvement in the amount of aerosol that you're going to be exposed to when everyone's wearing N95 and you're wearing N95. That's why they're such a powerful tool.

GUPTA (on camera): I think it's worth reminding people why exactly they work so well. It has to do with the actual material, there are electrostatically charged fibers in here. So it's not just filtering particles, it's actually attracting particles. Kind of like a blanket, might attract your socks in the dryer. Also, it works well not just for air that's potentially coming in but also for air that's potentially going out.

Now one key thing about the N95 masks is you got to make sure they actually fit really well. Having these two bands around the back of your head and then making sure no air is escaping around your eyes or your cheeks or your chin.

(voice-over): Studies have shown that cloth masks can have about 75 percent leakage, a surgical mask 50 percent. But with an N95, it can go down to as low as 1 percent. Even with the CDC's updated mass guidance, there is still no explicit recommendation to wear an N95. However, on Thursday, President Joe Biden announced a step in the right direction.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Next week we'll announce how we are making high quality masks available to American people for free.

GUPTA (voice-over): If you buy your own, the average cost of an N95 is just under $2, that's according to project N95, a nonprofit dedicated to educating people about high filtration masks. But how to pick the right one can be bewildering. There are more than 6000 different models of NIOSH approved respirators. NIOSH being the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a federal agency that evaluates safety equipment like masks.

KELLY CAROTHERS, DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS, PROJECT N95: It's an incredibly difficult market for consumers to navigate. And unfortunately in this circumstance, bad information could cost someone their life.

GUPTA (voice-over): Kelly Carothers is the director of government affairs at Project 95. The problem she says is that counterfeits have infiltrated the market. You can find a list of NIOSH approved products on the CDC's website.

But here's some of the things to look for.

Remember those head straps?

NIOSH approved N95 --


HOLMES: We interrupt now to take you to the Australian federal court, set to announce its decision on Novak Djokovic, let's listen.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- in the notation as to contempt in -- no to order 3, that order -- that is order 2 -- is revoked for purpose of making these orders and for what follows.

The court is in a position to make orders which are unanimous. The court is not in a position to deliver reasons today but will make every attempt to deliver written reasons as soon as possible in the coming days.

Given the interest and coverage of this dispute between Mr. Djokovic and the ministers of the executive government and the interest and coverage in different parts of the world, including Mr. Djokovic's home country of Serbia, the court considers it appropriate to make clear a number of matters about the process that has taken place.

First, this is not an appeal against the decision of the executive government. It is an application to the court, as a separate arm of government, being the commonwealth judicial branch, to review the decision of a member of the executive, the minister, for the lawfulness or legality of the decision on the three grounds put forward.

These grounds focused on whether the decision was for different reasons, irrational or legally unreasonable. It is no part of the function of the court to decide upon the merits or wisdom of the decision.

The orders of the court are, one, the amended application be dismissed with costs; such costs to be agreed or, failing agreement, assist.

Two, reasons to be published at a later date.

Those are the orders of the court.

The court does -- the court notes -- this is not part of the orders -- notes that some orders were made by the federal circuit and family court of Australia earlier. The court does not consider and is not aware of the need for any further orders.

But the court will adjourn for up to 30 minutes to allow the parties to consider whether any further order is necessary. The court does not suggest that it is.

If either party thinks that some further order is necessary, there is to be a joint communication from the solicitors of both sides to my chambers -- that is, the chambers of the chief justice -- as soon as possible.

If no further order is required, the court would be grateful for notice of that to my chambers as soon as possible. It goes without saying, if counsel can tell the court now that no further order is necessary, I invite counsel to do so.

Mr. Wood (ph) or Mr. Holdson (ph), are you able to indicate now?

Would you prefer some time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the answer is no but we have (INAUDIBLE) an option for a brief we'll take that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very well. The court will then adjourn as I've indicated and the court is grateful for those communication -- that communication as soon as possible, Mr. Wood (ph).



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Wood (ph), rather than do this on the fly I think we'll adjourn. And if you have -- you communicate -- or the solicitors communicate and allow are identified if there's any need for any orders.

Thank you. Court will adjourn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This court now adjourned.

HOLMES: All right, let's bring in CNN's Phil Black, who is live in Melbourne for us.

Phil, I'm no lawyer; the words I heard that stuck out, "application dismissed."

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, amended application dismissed, Michael. That means Novak Djokovic has lost. His visa cancellation stands. He'll not be allowed to play in the Australian Open. That's what that means.

His appeal to this court today, although you heard the judge say technically it's not an appeal, what they call judicial review, what he wants is the minister decision to cancel his vote, visa to be overturned; the court has ruled that will not happen.

As you heard the judge explaining there, this is not about the merits of the decision in the first place. This is just considering the nature of that decision in line with Australian law, on the grounds that were argued by Djokovic's lawyers.

The three judges hearing this court were not convinced by those arguments. It was a unanimous decision. Novak Djokovic does not -- still does not have a visa to remain lawfully in Australia. That means he'll remain in mandatory detention.

That means he'll be removed from the country at a time to be determined by Australian authorities, the border force and so forth. So the clear headline there is Novak Djokovic remains in detention and will not be participating in the Australian Open.

HOLMES: How quickly do these things move?

Presumably very quickly in terms of his departure.

BLACK: I think potentially they could move quite quickly. We don't have a full briefing yet on the precise bureaucratic steps that have to take place between this moment and his eventual departure on a plane.

At some point, it will have to be a plane scheduled to get him to where he needs to go. That is either back to Spain, where he departed from, or back to his homeland of Serbia. For the moment, though, he remains in his lawyer's office here, where we are standing.

This is where he's been watching -- observing these proceedings as they unfolded. It is where he waited while the judges considered their decision through the course of the afternoon, local time here in Melbourne.

So we wait to see what happens next. What it means is he remains in custody, technically. There are border force officials here, keeping an eye on him while he's been dealing with his lawyers, sitting on proceedings and so forth. If they can't get him on a plane quickly, that means he goes back to

the detention center that he spent last night, that he was staying in last week before the initial cancellation was overturned.

But it means, as I say, that he will be leaving the country, you would think relatively quickly. There is no avenue of appeal here, no legal mechanism that would allow him to take this further within a timeframe that could still see him potentially play in the Australian Open.

So his motivation for fighting this essentially disappears. There's no reason for him to continue staying in circumstances that are not of his choosing, in detention. So you would probably think it's in his best interest, his own personal motivation at this point, to get out of Australia as quickly as he can.

HOLMES: Yes, the Australian government worked very hard, I think it's fair to say, to have him removed and it's the government that has always wanted -- and taken a tough line when it comes to immigration.

How much did politics play into this?

The government was going to look bad if he played.

BLACK: Yes. The government risked humiliation here by pursuing this. And the analysis, from many experts and close observers of Australian politics, is that the clout of politics hung over his whole affair from the very moment the Australian prime minister first started talking about the need for Novak Djokovic to prove he had the right to enter the country and he would be treated just like everybody else.

And if he couldn't prove he had a valid reason for vaccination exemption, he'd be on the next plane home. Certainly, it's been quite a saga and passage of time between the prime minister, Scott Morrison, initially making those comments at the time Novak Djokovic was stopped at the border, back on January 5th, and between that point and now eventually, achieving this resolution in the case, if you like.

It has gone a long way.