Djokovic loses appeal, set to leave Australia
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic lashes out at Australian authorities Sunday morning, saying they "humiliated themselves" with Djokovic's court ruling.
World tennis number one Novak Djokovic lost his final bid to avoid deportation from Australia on Sunday, ending an 11-day battle over his Covid-19 vaccination status and slamming his dream of a record 21st Grand Slam.
In a few words, the chief justice of Australia's Federal Court, James Allsop, Sunday dispensed with the unvaccinated tennis superstar's attempt to reinstate his canceled visa.
"The orders of the court are that the amended application be dismissed with costs", Allsop said announcing the unanimous decision, on the eve of the first matches at the Australian Open.
The 34-year-old defending champion had been scheduled to play in the evening of the first day. If he had retained the title, he would have become the first men's tennis player in history to win 21 Grand Slams.
Instead, the openly anti-Covid vaccine tennis superstar is now set to be kept in detention pending a quick flight out of Australia.
In his first response, Djokovic expressed he was "extremely disappointed" by the top court's decision to uphold the government's cancellation of his visa, but he would comply and leave the country.
"I respect the Court's ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country," he said in a statement.
Risk to Australia's public order
Three Federal Court judges had listened to a half-day of legal back-and-forth about Djokovic's alleged risk to public order in Australia.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said Djokovic's stance may inspire anti-vaccine sentiment, leading some people to face the pandemic without vaccination and inspiring anti-vaxxer activists to gather in protests and rallies.
Djokovic has spent much of the last week in immigration detention, with his visa twice being revoked by the government over his refusal to get a Covid-19 vaccine before arrival -- a requirement for most visitors.
Tennis champion #NovakDjokovic's detention has sparked international scrutiny, what's next for this case?#AustralianOpen2022 #Serbia pic.twitter.com/qhIwlPE8Mk— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) January 8, 2022
Because of the format of the court, the judges' decision will be extremely difficult to appeal by either side.
Besides immediate deportation, the Serbian star also faces a three-year ban from Australia.
For a few days, Djokovic was free to train before a second visa revocation and a return to a notorious Melbourne immigration detention facility.
Many Australians -- who have suffered prolonged lockdowns and border restrictions -- believe the player gamed the system to dodge vaccine entry requirements.
Australia's Immigration Minister has admitted that Djokovic is at "negligible" risk of infecting Australians, but argued his past "disregard" for Covid-19 regulations may pose a risk to public health and encourage people to ignore pandemic rules.
Read more: Novak Djokovic broke isolation despite testing positive
Serbian president says Australia 'humiliated themselves' with court ruling
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic lashed out at Australian authorities Sunday morning, hours after a federal court paved the way for the deportation of Novak Djokovic on the eve of the Australian Open over his vaccine status.
"They think that they have humiliated Djokovic with this mistreatment of him for 10 days, but they have humiliated themselves. Djokovic can return to his country with his head held high," Vucic told local media.
Nadal: Australian Open great with or without Djokovic
Djokovic is tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal with 20 Grand Slam titles each.
Spanish great Nadal took a swipe at his rival on Saturday as players complained the scandal was overshadowing the opening Grand Slam of the year.
"The Australian Open is much more important than any player," Nadal told reporters at Melbourne Park.
"The Australian Open will be a great Australian Open with or without him."
Djokovic deported from Australia
Novak Djokovic was deported from Australia on Sunday night having lost his legal battle over his vaccination status.
He boarded a flight from Melbourne's Tullamarine airport for Dubai late Sunday, accompanied by a retinue of aides and officials.
He boarded a flight that took off at 10:51 PM local time, hours after he had the decision to cancel his visa was upheld on public order grounds.
"I cannot stay in Australia and participate in the Australian Open," he said on the eve of the tournament.