SPORT: Novak Djokovic expelled from Australia for refusing the Covid-19 vaccine.

Djokovic’s hopes of play­ing at the Aus­tralian Open have been dashed after a court reject­ed his appeal against an evic­tion order.
Ten­nis star Novak Djokovic has lost his chance to defend his Aus­tralian Open title after an Aus­tralian court upheld a gov­ern­ment evic­tion order.

On Sun­day, three Fed­er­al Court judges sided with Immi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Alex Hawke’s deci­sion on Fri­day to revoke the 34-year-old Ser­b’s visa on grounds of pub­lic interest.

A depor­ta­tion order usu­al­ly also includes a three-year ban on re-enter­ing Australia.

Djokovic’s sen­sa­tion­al 11-day bat­tle over COVID vac­ci­na­tion sta­tus has end­ed his dream of a record-break­ing 21st Grand Slam.

Djokovic said he was “extreme­ly dis­ap­point­ed” with the court’s deci­sion but added that he “will coop­er­ate with the rel­e­vant author­i­ties regard­ing my departure”.

“I am uncom­fort­able that the focus of the last few weeks has been on me and I hope we can all now focus on the game and the tour­na­ment that I love,” he said in a statement.

The Ser­bian play­er flew to Mel­bourne air­port a few hours lat­er. Fed­er­al agents escort­ed him and his team from the busi­ness lounge to the gate, where he board­ed an Emi­rates flight to Dubai. The flight took off short­ly before 23:00 (12:00 GMT).

Hawke can­celed the visa on the grounds that Djokovic’s pres­ence in Aus­tralia could pose a risk to the health and “good order” of the Aus­tralian pub­lic and “may be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive to vac­ci­na­tion efforts by oth­ers in Australia”.

The judges lis­tened to half a day of fiery legal back-and-forth over the alleged risk posed by Djokovic.

Hawke said Djokovic’s stance could inspire anti-vac­cine sen­ti­ment, lead­ing some peo­ple to face the pan­dem­ic with­out a vac­ci­na­tion and inspir­ing anti-vaxxer activists to come togeth­er in protests and rallies.

The play­er’s top legal team have described Aus­trali­a’s efforts to deport him as “irra­tional” and “unrea­son­able”, but they have faced point­ed ques­tions at times.

Djokovic’s lawyer, Nick Wood, insist­ed his client had not court­ed anti-vac­ci­na­tion sup­port and was not asso­ci­at­ed with the move­ment. The gov­ern­ment “does not know what Mr. Djokovic’s cur­rent views are,” Wood said.

Djokovic was due to play his Aus­tralian Open first round match on Mon­day night as part of an announced Day 1 sched­ule while he was still in legal limbo.

The Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment can­celed Djokovic’s visa due to issues sur­round­ing his stance against COVID vac­ci­na­tion. It was four days after the Ser­bian star had an ear­li­er deci­sion to can­cel his visa over­turned by a court on pro­ce­dur­al grounds.

Fans react­ed with dis­may to the court’s decision.

“What they did today was any­thing but jus­tice,” said Natasha Mar­jnovic, 44, a Djokovic sup­port­er who was wip­ing away tears.

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