Thu, 26 May 2022

Australia to Deport Tennis Ace Djokovic

Voice of America
16 Jan 2022, 22:06 GMT+10

MELBOURNE - Serbian tennis champion Novak Djokovic is being deported from Australia after losing an appeal to stay in the country. Australia canceled the visa of the world No. 1 tennis player on health and public order grounds.

Novak Djokovic's supporters believe he has been unfairly treated by Australia after arriving in Melbourne last week.

They said his deportation was "inhumane" and "outrageous" after the chief justice of the Federal Court of Australia, James Allsop, rejected Djokovic's last-ditch attempt to remain in the country.

"The orders of the court are, one, the amended application be dismissed with costs; two, reasons to be published at a later date. Those are the orders of the court," said Allsop.

The Serbian tennis player was granted a medical waiver from Australia's COVID-19 vaccination rules by two independent health panels set up by the Victoria state government and Australian tennis authorities. Djokovic had been infected with the virus in December.

However, his visa was canceled when he arrived at Melbourne airport January 5 by Border Force officials, who said he had flouted immigration rules.

He was sent to an immigration detention hotel in Melbourne.

His visa was reinstated by an Australian judge on Monday, but it was revoked for a second time by immigration minister Alex Hawke on Friday.

Djokovic is not inoculated against COVID-19 and Hawke asserted that his presence in Australia would stir anti-vaccination sentiment, and canceled his visa on health and public interest grounds.

The tennis champion's lawyers insisted the government's argument was irrational and illogical. The three federal court judges unanimously disagreed and Djokovic's appeal Sunday was dismissed.

Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said the Australian Open will not be diminished by the Serbian player's absence.

"This grand slam tournament - one of the big four - is much bigger than any one person. Much bigger. That is why it is a grand slam. That is why it is the biggest thing in tennis in the first quarter of every year," he said.

Djokovic has won the Australian Open title nine times.

Had he triumphed at this year's tournament he would have become the most successful men's grand slam champion, with 21 titles.

Before he left Australia, he said in a statement that he was "extremely disappointed with the Court ruling" but he respected the decision and would "cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country."

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