Novak Djokovic Finally Leaves Australia After Losing Visa Appeal

Novak Djokovic Finally Leaves Australia After Losing Visa Appeal
Novak Djokovic Finally Leaves Australia After Losing Visa Appeal

After several efforts to avoid deportation, tennis player Novak Djokovic left Australia hours after a federal court dismissed his challenge to his cancelled visa.

A three-judge bench of the Australian federal court ruled on Sunday in favor of Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s decision to reject Djokovic’s visa for a second time, leading to Djokovic leaving the country without a chance to compete in the Australian Open.

“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 said in a statement.

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

Hawke expressed approval for the Federal Court ruling on Sunday and confirmed that Djokovic departed the country. Novak was seen leaving Australia on a flight to Dubai, reported CNN. The No. 1 tennis player’s final destination is unknown.

Tennis Australia, which organizes the Australian Open, said that it “respects the decision of the federal court” and that Djokovic’s slot has been replaced.

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While Australian authorities were happy with the decision, Serbian officials were less appreciative.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said in a press conference that he had spoken with Djokovic after the ruling and offered him encouragement.

Vucic compared Australia’s actions to a “witch hunt,” asking how “they can treat anyone they choose like this.”

“They think they’ve humiliated Djokovic with this 10-day harassment. They’ve only humiliated themselves, and Djokovic can return to his country with his head held high,” Vucic added.

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Djokovic’s visa was canceled on Friday by Hawke on “health and good order grounds, [and] on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so.” The Serbian tennis player had been previously rejected due to his unwillingness to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Although the Australian Open has a vaccine mandate, the tournament waived that requirement for Djokovic, who has previously contracted the virus. The tennis player’s lawyer argued that Djokovic did not need the vaccine due to him previously testing positive for COVID-19.

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