Sports Slammed out: Djokovic loses appeal, deported from Australia

Slammed out: Djokovic loses appeal, deported from Australia

Melbourne, January 16

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.

The 34-year-old world No. 1 from Serbia said he was “extremely disappointed” by the ruling but respected it.

Djokovic was seen upon arrival at Melbourne’s airport and left on a flight to Dubai, the same United Arab Emirates city he flew to Australia from. Djokovic has won a record nine Australian Open titles, including three in a row, but this time won’t even get the chance to try.

“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. Djokovic said he was “uncomfortable” that the focus had been on him since his visa was first canceled on arrival at Melbourne’s airport on January 6. “I hope that we can all now focus on the game and tournament I love,” he said.

A deportation order also usually includes a three-year ban on returning to Australia.

Lies, lies!

In Serbia, President Aleksandar Vucic said the hearing 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 told reporters.

He said he told Djokovic after talking 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 did not say whether Djokovic said he would first go to Serbia after his deportation.

Chief Justice James Allsop said the ruling came down to whether the minister’s decision was “irrational or legally unreasonable”. Alex Hawke, Australia’s Minister for Immigration and Migrant Services, welcomed the decision. “Australia’s strong border protection policies have kept us safe during the pandemic, resulting in one of the lowest death rates, the strongest economic recoveries, and highest vaccination rates in the world,” Hawke said. “Strong border protection policies are also fundamental to safe-guarding Australia’s social cohesion which continues to strengthen despite the pandemic.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed what he described as the “decision to keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe”. — AP/PTI

Fast court

The court process that Novak 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 canceled, 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.

Absence of Djoker to echo at Melbourne Park

MELBOURNE: The absence of Novak Djokovic will be keenly felt at Melbourne Park on Monday as a 150th-ranked ‘lucky loser’ steps into the place of a 20-time Grand Slam champion when the first round of the Australian Open gets underway. Djokovic had been scheduled to play fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic in the late match at Rod Laver Arena. Seeing Djokovic play after a dramatic week of court challenges and fan protesters would have been appointed viewing around the world, not least to see the reception of the crowd in a country where his refusal to vaccinate for Covid-19 has triggered outrage.

Instead, Italian journeyman Salvatore Caruso, who has never won an ATP title and bowed out during qualifying, replaces Djokovic in the draw as the ‘lucky loser’ and will play Kecmanovic at one of the lesser showcourts.

The late Rod Laver Arena slot has now been taken by third seed and Olympics champion Alexander Zverev after the order of play was rejigged today following Djokovic’s court defeat. Home hero and women’s top seed Ash Barty will take top billing when she opens her campaign for a first Australian Open title in the first evening match at Rod Laver Arena. Women’s defending champion Naomi Osaka will play the second match of the day session at Rod Laver Arena, before men’s sixth seed Rafa Nadal takes to the court. Reuters

Rafa Nadal during training. ap/pti

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