Tennis Star Novak Djokovic Leaving Australia After Losing Deportation Appeal

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic left Australia on Sunday night after shedding his closing bid to keep away from deportation and play within the Australian Open regardless of being unvaccinated for COVID-19. A court docket earlier unanimously dismissed the No. 1-ranked tennis participant’s problem to cancel his visa.

Djokovic, a 34-year-old from Serbia, stated he was “extremely disappointed” by the ruling however revered it.

A masked Djokovic was photographed in an Melbourne airport lounge with two authorities officers in black uniforms. He left on an Emirates flight to Dubai, the identical United Arab Emirates metropolis he flew to Australia from.

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He has gained a file 9 Australian Open titles, together with three in a row, however this time gained’t even get the prospect to strive.

“I respect the Court’s ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country,” he stated in an announcement.

Djokovic stated he was “uncomfortable” that the main focus had been on him since his visa was first canceled on arrival at Mebourne’s airport on Jan. 6.

“I hope that we can all now focus on the game and tournament I love,” he stated.

The nationwide federation that runs the event, Tennis Australia, stated it respects the choice of the Federal Court. “We look forward to a competitive and exciting Australian Open 2022 and wish all players the best of luck,” it stated in an announcement.

A deportation order additionally normally features a three-year ban on returning to Australia.

Novak Djokovic practices on Rod Laver Arena ahead of the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Jan. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Mark Baker, File)
Novak Djokovic practices on Rod Laver Arena forward of the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Jan. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Mark Baker, File)

Mark Baker through AP

In Serbia, President Aleksandar Vucic stated the listening to was “a farce with a lot of lies.”

“They think that they humiliated Djokovic with this 10-day harassment, and they actually humiliated themselves. If you said that the one who was not vaccinated has no right to enter, Novak would not come or would be vaccinated,” Vucic advised reporters.

He stated he advised Djokovic after speaking to him “that we can’t wait to see him in Serbia, to return to his country, to come where he is always welcome.”

He didn’t say whether or not Djokovic stated he would first go to Serbia after his deportation.

Chief Justice James Allsop stated the ruling got here down as to if the minister’s resolution was “irrational or legally unreasonable.”

Hawke welcomed the choice. His workplace didn’t instantly present element of how or when Djokovic would depart.

“Australia’s strong border protection policies have kept us safe during the pandemic, resulting in one of the lowest death rates, strongest economic recoveries, and highest vaccination rates in the world,” Hawke stated.

“Strong border protection policies are also fundamental to safe-guarding Australia’s social cohesion which continues to strengthen despite the pandemic,” he added.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed what he described because the “decision to keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe.”

But opposition spokesperson on the home affairs portfolio, Kristina Keneally, stated Djokovic was being deported for what he stated and did publicly abroad earlier than the federal government gave him a visa in November.

“This mess isn’t a failure of our laws. It’s a failure of Morrison’s competence & leadership,” Keneally tweeted.

The pandemic response has develop into politically charged with Morrison’s conservative coalition looking for a fourth three-year time period at elections due by May.

Infection charges have soared throughout a lot of Australian since December when Morrison’s authorities relaxed what had been among the democratic world’s hardest restrictions on worldwide travel.

“I will now be taking some time to rest and to recuperate, before making any further comments beyond this,” he stated.

The court docket course of that Djokovic had hoped would preserve his aspirations alive for a 21st Grand Slam title was terribly quick by Australian requirements.

Within three hours of Hawke’s announcement on Friday afternoon that Djokovic’s visa was canceled, his legal professionals went earlier than a Federal Circuit and Family Court choose to provoke their problem to the choice. The case was elevated to the Federal Court on Saturday and submissions had been filed by each side that very same day.

The three judges heard the case over 5 hours on Sunday and introduced their verdict two hours later.

There was proof that Djokovic was to be deported based mostly on Hawke’s evaluation that he was thought of a “talisman of a community of anti-vaccination sentiment.”

Hawke’s lawyer Stephen Lloyd took goal at Djokovic’s anti-vaccination stance and his “history of ignoring COVID safety measures.”

Lloyd raised the instance of Djokovic giving a French newspaper journalist an interview final month whereas he was contaminated with COVID-19 and taking off his masks throughout a photograph shoot. Djokovic has acknowledged the interview was an error of judgment.

The minister canceled the visa on the grounds that Djokovic’s presence in Australia could also be a threat to the well being and “good order” of the Australian public and “may be counterproductive to efforts at vaccination by others in Australia.”

Djokovic’s visa was initially canceled on Jan. 6 by a border official who determined he didn’t qualify for a medical exemption from Australia’s rules for unvaccinated guests. He was exempted from the event’s vaccine rules as a result of he had been contaminated with the virus inside the earlier six months.

Vasek Pospisil, a Canadian who gained the 2014 Wimbledon males’s doubles title and has labored with Djokovic to kind an association to symbolize gamers, tweeted: “There was a political agenda at play here with the (Australian) elections coming up which couldn’t be more obvious. This is not his fault. He did not force his way into the country and did not ‘make his own rules’; he was ready to stay home.”

Pospisil wrote that Djokovic wouldn’t have tried to go to Australia in any respect and “been home with his family” had he not acquired the medical exemption.

Djokovic has gained 9 Australian Open titles, together with three in a row, and a complete of 20 Grand Slam singles trophies, tied with rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for probably the most within the historical past of males’s tennis.

Djokovic’s dominance of late has been significantly spectacular, successful 4 of the final seven main tournaments and ending because the runner-up at two others.

The solely time he didn’t get no less than to the ultimate in that span was on the 2020 U.S. Open, the place he was disqualified within the fourth spherical for hitting a ball that inadvertently hit a line choose within the throat after a sport.

Because Djokovic has withdrawn from the event after Monday’s schedule was launched, he has been changed within the discipline by what’s often called a “lucky loser” — a participant who loses within the qualifying event however will get into the primary draw due to one other participant’s exit earlier than competitors has began.

That participant is Italian Salvatore Caruso, who’s ranked 150th on the planet.

Associated Press writers John Pye in Melbourne, Australia, Howard Fendrich in Washington D.C., and Dusan Stojanovic in Belgrade, Serbia, contributed to this report.

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