Novak Djokovic has left Australia after losing his appeal against his visa cancellation.
He was deported after judges upheld a decision by the immigration minister that the unvaccinated tennis star posed a threat to public health. It comes after a 10-day legal battle that began when Djokovic arrived to compete in the Australian Open. He was hoping for an unprecedented 21st men’s Grand Slam win.
The reigning champion flew out of Australia after losing his court battle, to the dismay of his crestfallen supporters, many of them Serbian expatriates.
But, for others in a country that has endured one of the world’s strictest coronavirus lockdowns, Djokovic’s admission to Australia would have been the injustice.
Little wonder, then, that the Australian government basked in the glow of victory. Strong borders had kept the country safe during the pandemic, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
Unsurprisingly, the decision didn’t go down so well in Belgrade, where Djokovic is venerated.
In purely sporting terms, the decision leaves a superstar-shaped hole in the Australian Open. The Serb has bagged nine of the last 14 titles. He is now denied the chance to add to that haul – not only this year but potentially at the following three tournaments – should normal deportation rules apply.
For now, Djokovic is also denied a shot at a record 21st major title. The 34-year-old said he was “extremely disappointed” but that he would respect the ruling – one whose implications, both sporting and political, are seismic.
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