Novak Djokovic has lost his appeal against the Australian immigration minister’s decision to cancel his visa, and is now set to be deported from the country.
In a statement, Djokovic said he was ‘extremely disappointed’ in the ruling, which came via a unanimous verdict from three judges who agreed immigration minister Alex Hawke was within his rights to cancel the tennis star’s visa for a second time on public health grounds.
‘I respect the Court’s ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country,’ Djokovic said, per BBC News. ‘I am uncomfortable that the focus of the past weeks has been on me and I hope that we can all now focus on the game and tournament I love.’
His statement added:
I am extremely disappointed with the Court ruling to dismiss my application for judicial review of the Minister’s decision to cancel my visa, which means I cannot stay in Australia and participate in the Australian Open.
Djokovic also said he ‘would like to thank my family, friends, team, supporters, fans and my fellow Serbians’ for their support. ‘You have all been a great source of strength to me.’
It’s not clear when Djokovic will leave Australia. The ruling also leaves open the possibility that he could face a three-year ban from Australia.
The ruling appears to mark a final conclusion to a 10-day saga that saw Djokovic engaged in a legal battle with the Australian government over his attempt to enter the country and compete at the Australian Open without being vaccinated, which is a requirement for all foreigners arriving in Australia.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed the verdict in a statement, saying:
This cancellation decision was made on health, safety and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so.
I welcome the decision to keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe.
Djokovic’s initial deportation order was overturned by a judge last week, however on Friday, January 14, it was announced that the immigration minister had decided to unilaterally cancel the star’s visa again, citing the possibility of his being allowed to stay stoking anti-vaccination sentiment and possible ‘civil unrest’.
He was taken back into detention on Saturday, and now appears to face imminent deportation, 10 days after first arriving.
The decision means he will not defend his Australian Open title, and will lose out on the opportunity to break the record for the most grand slams won by a male tennis player.
Rafael Nadal, who is tied with Djokovic and Roger Federer on 20 titles, will compete at Melbourne Park, and over the past week has expressed limited sympathy for his rival, saying, ‘In some way I feel sorry for him. But at the same time he knew the conditions.’
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