SYDNEY (Transatlantic Today): Novak Djokovic left Australia on Sunday, hours after a court ruling to deport him, bringing an end to a long ordeal that rattled the tennis world.
On the eve of the Australian Open, beginning Monday, the world’s top-ranked male tennis player left. As a result, he would not be able to defend his title and capture his record-tying 21st major singles title.
Djokovic, 34, was forced to flee Australia after three Australian judges dismissed his appeal against a deportation order on Sunday, upholding Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s decision to cancel the Serb’s visa on public interest grounds on Friday.
Djokovic stated in a statement after the court’s decision that he was “very disappointed” by the decision, but that he would comply with Australian officials on his departure.
According to NBC News, Djokovic was subsequently escorted to the Melbourne airport, where he boarded an Emirates flight heading for Dubai.
The controversy surrounding Djokovic has revived the issue over those who wish not to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
Australian border laws presently only allow fully vaccinated non-Australian travelers to enter the country, however, he claimed he was granted a medical exemption because he was tested with Covid-19 in his native country last month and since then has recovered.
Djokovic filed an appeal when border officials denied his exemption and revoked his visa. On procedural grounds, this was later restored.
He revealed Wednesday, however, that he made a false statement on his travel form to enter Australia and that he failed to isolate quickly after testing positive in his homeland Serbia last month, adding to the criticism from Australian authorities and the international media.
On Friday, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke revoked Djokovic’s visa for the second time, stating that it was in the public interest.
On Sunday, three Federal Judges backed his ruling. Chief Justice James Allsop stated that their decision was based on the minister’s decision being legitimate and legal in light of the three grounds of appeal filed by Djokovic’s team.
Many Australians are angered by the Djokovic scandal, as an epidemic of the more communicable omicron type feeds record-high levels of illnesses.
It has also sparked diplomatic difficulties between Australia and Serbia, as Djokovic’s family and the country’s leaders have blasted Australian authorities for their treatment of the country’s national sporting symbol.