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TENNIS

Djokovic loses Australian visa appeal: what did the judge say, when will he be deported?

Novak Djokovic left Australia on Sunday after losing his appeal against Immigration Minister Alex Hawke's decision to cancel the tennis star's visa.

Update:
Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic walks in Melbourne Airport before boarding a flight, after the Federal Court upheld a government decision to cancel his visa to play in the Australian Open, in Melbourne, Australia, January 16, 2022. REUTERS/Loren Elli
LOREN ELLIOTTREUTERS

Tennis star Novak Djokovic has been deported from Australia after a Melbourne court dismissed his appeal against the cancellation of his visa.

According to widespread reports, the men's world number one boarded a flight bound for Dubai at Melbourne airport on Sunday evening.

Court finds unanimously against Djokovic in visa appeal

Following a hearing earlier on Sunday, the Federal Court of Australia opted to uphold Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s decision to revoke the 34-year-old’s visa.

Chief Justice James Allsop, Justice Anthony Besanko and Justice David O’Callaghan ruled unanimously against Djokovic and ordered the Serb to pay the costs of his appeal. Chief Justice Allsop added that the court would reveal the reasons for its decision at a later date.

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Delivering the court's verdict, Allsop said its ruling was a reflection not of the "merits or wisdom" of Hawke's decision, but of whether it was unlawful.

Djokovic will now be unable to defend his men's singles title at the Australian Open, which gets underway on Monday.

The nine-time Australian Open champion had been due to begin his campaign against compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic. He is to be replaced in the men's singles draw by Italian Salvatore Caruso.

Djokovic's participation in forthcoming editions of the Australian Open is now also in doubt, as deportation from Australia usually carries with it a three-year ban on returning to the country.

Djokovic "extremely disappointed" at visa ruling

In a statement released following the Federal Court of Australia's ruling, Djokovic said: “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.

“I respect the Court’s ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country.

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.”

Djokovic visa revoked for second time on Friday

The row over Djokovic's visa stems from the Australian border authorities' refusal to accept the unvaccinated Serb's claim to an exemption from rules requiring all players and staff at the Australian Open to be vaccinated.

Djokovic’s visa was initially revoked on 6 January, the day after his arrival in Australia, before being reinstated by a Melbourne judge on 10 January. On Friday, Immigration Minister Hawke then used special powers to re-cancel the player's right to remain, citing public health concerns.

Hawke argued that Djokovic's presence in the country could lead to a rise in "anti-vaccination sentiment". By stirring anti-vax feeling among Australians, he could even cause "civil unrest", the minister claimed.

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