No Australian Open for World No.1: Djoković Loses Court Case, Gets Deported From Australia
Novak Djoković’s drama in Australia has finally come to an end. On January 16, on “health and good order” grounds, the court of the ‘Land Down Under’ denied his request to have his visa reinstated for the second time, indicating that he’ll be deported.
In a statement, the world’s No. 1 men’s tennis player acknowledged the fight is ended and that he won’t compete in the 2022 Australian Open.
“I’m 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 can’t stay in Australia and participate in the Australian Open. I respect the Court’s ruling and I’ll cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country,” the Serb stated after learning the legal decision.
The decision on Sunday was a last-ditch effort to overturn a verdict from two days prior that had deprived Djoković of his visa for the second time. He filed the lawsuit after Immigration Minister Alex Hawke invoked his ministerial powers to revoke Djoković’s visa, claiming that his presence in the country could inflame anti-vaccination sentiment.
Unprecedented Multi-Week Legal Battle That Shook World of Sports
Djoković’s defense unsuccessfully argued that the government’s grounds were “invalid and illogical” during a court hearing on Sunday before a three-judge panel. The federal court’s ruling on Sunday was based on the minister’s decision’s lawfulness and legality, not on its “merits or wisdom”, according to Chief Justice James Allsop. In the following days, he said, the full explanation for the judgment will be made public.
This brings to a close an unprecedented multi-week legal battle that began when Djoković’s visa was revoked upon his arrival in Melbourne for the event on January 6. Because his medical exemption for the COVID-19 vaccine was deemed ineligible by immigration officials, the decision was made. After testing positive for coronavirus in his home country in mid-December, two separate independent health panels – one commissioned by Tennis Australia, the other by the state government of Victoria – gave Djoković a medical exemption to enter Australia. On 5 January, however, he was detained by the Australian Border Force for failing to meet federal coronavirus criteria and that’s when this all started.
Unless an exemption applies, all visitors to the nation must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The 34-year-old Serbian has indicated that he isn’t immunized. Though a judge temporarily renewed his visa on January 10 to give him more time to appeal, the back-and-forth fight resumed three days later when the ruling was revoked. The tennis player then had one last chance to win in the country’s Federal Court on Sunday. It didn’t work out for him.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed “the decision to keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe.” He added that “Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected”.
The Serb’s attempt to enter Australia without being vaccinated has sparked widespread outrage in Australia. The federal government has frequently stated that no one is “above the law” and that everyone must follow the strict rules in place to cope with the outbreak. Despite the fact that Djoković isn’t immune to Covid-19, he hasn’t aggressively or in any other way propagated anti-vax movement.
Djoković Prevented From Becoming World Record Holder in Number of Grand Slams
While the country’s rigorous COVID-19 immunization policy is at the heart of the problem, Djoković added to the confusion by providing inaccurate information on his visa form. He claimed not to have traveled in the two weeks running up to his arrival in Australia on the paper. The athlete later confirmed that he had traveled to Spain in the preceding days and apologized for his error. Sorry didn’t seem to be enough.
The withdrawal of Novak Djoković from the competition had a significant impact on the men’s draw. He has won Melbourne’s Grand Slam 9 times in total, including the last three. He would’ve been seeking to win the 21st Grand Slam event of his career, which would be a new men’s tennis record. He’s equal with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer for the most titles (20).
The athlete was supposed to start defending his championship in the tournament on Monday evening local time. An alternate will now take over that slot and it’s decided to be the 150th in the world, Italian Salvatore Caruso. The absence of Novak Djoković from the Australian Open will drastically reshuffle the odds of no deposit bookmakers when it comes to the tournament’s winner.
While each country has its own COVID laws, it’s unclear what Djoković’s status will be for future major tournaments.