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Djokovic leaves Australia after losing deportation appeal
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 16 - 01 - 2022

Novak Djokovic left Australia on Sunday evening after losing his final bid to avoid deportation and play in the Australian Open despite being unvaccinated for COVID-19.
A court earlier unanimously dismissed the No. 1-ranked tennis player's challenge to cancel his visa. Djokovic, a 34-year-old from Serbia, said he was "extremely disappointed" by the ruling but respected it.
A masked Djokovic was photographed in an Melbourne airport lounge with two government officials in black uniforms. He has won a record nine Australian Open titles, including three in a row, but this time won't even get the chance to try.
Djokovic said he was "uncomfortable" that the 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 said.
The national federation that runs the tournament, Tennis Australia, said it respects the decision of the Federal Court. "We look forward to a competitive and exciting Australian Open 2022 and wish all players the best of luck," it said in a statement. A deportation order also usually includes a three-year ban on returning to Australia.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed what he described as the "decision to keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe."
But opposition spokesperson on the home affairs portfolio, Kristina Keneally, said Djokovic was being deported for what he said and did publicly overseas before the government gave him a visa in November.
rates have soared across much of Australian since December when Morrison's government relaxed what had been some of the democratic world's toughest restrictions on international travel.
The court process that Djokovic had hoped would keep his aspirations alive for a 21st Grand Slam title was extraordinarily fast by Australian standards.
Within three hours of Hawke's announcement on Friday afternoon that Djokovic's visa was cancelled, his lawyers went before a Federal Circuit and Family Court judge to initiate their challenge to the decision.
The case was elevated to the Federal Court on Saturday and submissions were filed by both sides that same day. The three judges heard the case over five hours on Sunday and announced their verdict two hours later.
The minister cancelled the visa on the grounds that Djokovic's presence in Australia may be a risk to the health and "good order" of the Australian public and "may be counterproductive to efforts at vaccination by others in Australia."
Djokovic's visa was initially cancelled on Jan. 6 by a border official who decided he didn't qualify for a medical exemption from Australia's rules for unvaccinated visitors. He was exempted from the tournament's vaccine rules because he had been infected with the virus within the previous six months. — Agencies


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