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Novak Djokovic’s virtual visa appeal hearing was interrupted by porn, folk songs and protesters

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Porn, loud groans and folk music played an unexpected role in an Australian court hearing on Monday that saw tennis player Novak Djokovic’s visa to the country reinstated after days of controversy.

The world tennis number one arrived in Melbourne last week to defend his championship title at the Australian Open, but was detained by authorities amid claims he had not met the vaccination requirements for entry into the country.

Djokovic – who, court documents confirmed, is not vaccinated against COVID-19 – told Australian Border Force officials that he had been given a medical exemption by Tennis Australia and the Victoria state government in order to play in the tournament.

The case has sparked intense media attention, with supporters of the Serbian player clashing with police in Melbourne.

The chaos outside appeared to have infected the court’s proceedings, Reuters reported, as a series of technological mishaps marred the hearing, which was held virtually due to COVID-related restrictions.

‘Techno blasting, giggling and shouting’

Shortly before the hearing began, a Microsoft Teams link provided by the court was overcome by chaos, as unmuted viewers started “intermittently blasting folk music and meme sounds,” according to Australia-based journalist Zac Crellin.

Then, as the court scrambled to close the Microsoft Teams broadcast and redirect the stream, it was taken over by someone who began to display pornography to over 350 journalists and members of the public.

Viewers were also subjected to loud techno and strange voices, Sydney Morning Herald journalist Sarah Danckert said on Twitter.

“We’ve had techno blasting, giggling, shouting and someone is just saying Nole [a nickname for Djokovic] repeatedly in a pained voice,” she wrote.

Before the court was able to mute the assembled viewers, there were some shouts of protest including “free the refugees,” “free Nole,” and “this is bad for [Australia],” Danckert said.

You should be on mute

Even after the Microsoft Teams link was replaced, the technical snarl-ups continued.

According to Reuters, a member of the public interrupted proceedings by saying “we’re in” after joining the live stream.

“Can I ask whoever is on screen to mute themselves…the only people who should be online with their microphones are those who are making submissions to the court,” presiding judge Anthony Kelly responded.

Australia-based sports journalist Emily Benammar summed up the Djokovic saga, both in court and outside, as a “clusterfuck”.

“This Djokovic stream situation is a cluster f*** I mean the whole thing is, but this is latest clusterf*** in the wider clusterf***,” she tweeted.

Responding to a Reuters request for comment, a court spokesperson said Djokovic’s appeal against his visa cancellation had generated “unprecedented public interest” which “expanded beyond the media and subsequently received enormous global public attention”.

“As a result … problems arose with the streaming services that were provided by a third party supplier,” the spokesperson said.

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