Tennis star Novak Djokovic has officially been deported from Australia after his legal team failed to convince senior judges of his right to stay in the country.
Djokovic had been expecting to compete in the Australian Open, aiming to win the Grand Slam title for the fourth time in a row and the tenth overall in his career.
Victory would have taken his total of Grand Slam titles to 21, making him the most decorated player in the history of men’s tennis, he is currently tied on 20 with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
However, judges James Allsop, Anthony Besanko and David O’Callaghan unanimously decided Djokovic did not have grounds to stay in Australia. Today, January 16, he has been seen boarding a Melbourne a flight bound for Dubai.
Djokovic’s visa was cancelled on the grounds of public interest after personal intervention from Australian immigration minister Alex Hawke, with The Guardian reporting he believed there was a risk of ‘civil unrest’ if a ‘talisman of anti-vaccination sentiment’ like Djokovic was allowed to stay.
The tennis star’s defence team were unsuccessful in their attempts to argue that the government’s grounds for cancelling his visa were invalid or illogical, with Chief Justice Allsop saying Hawke’s decision was lawful.
The world men’s number one tennis player could face a three-year ban on applying for a visa to enter Australia as deportation orders usually include such provisions, though the government has not indicated whether it will pursue this option in Djokovic’s case.
Lawyers for the Australian government have said Djokovic poses an ‘overwhelming risk’ to the public after it emerged that he broke Covid safety measures while infected with coronavirus.
Australia usually requires entrants to be vaccinated against Covid-19, something Djokovic is not. The tennis star first secured a medical exemption grounds after he caught Covid in December.
Although Djokovic has not actively promoted anti-vaxx disinformation, BBC News reports he has become a symbol for the anti-vaxx movement in Australia as the hashtag #IStandWithDjokovic has appeared on social media.
Djokovic’s visa was first revoked upon his arrival in Melbourne, though he later won a court appeal against that cancellation before immigration minister Hawke stepped in to revoke it again.
The men’s world no.1 had been due to play the first round of the Australian Open tomorrow, January 17, against fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic. Djokovic’s place will now be taken by Italian Salvatore Caruso.
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Topics: News, Australia, Australian Open, Novak Djokovic, Now