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breaking news Djokovic set to leave Australia after losing appeal

Tennis superstar Novak Djokovic boarded a plane to leave Australia on Sunday after the Federal Court upheld the government’s decision to revoke his visa on the grounds that his decision not to get a COVID shot -19 posed a risk to the country.

The unanimous decision by a three-judge bench was a final blow to Djokovic’s hopes of claiming a record 21st Grand Slam victory at the Australian Open, after a roller coaster ride.

The Serbian player boarded an Emirates flight to Melbourne on Sunday evening just hours after the ruling, a Reuters witness said. The flight was scheduled to take off at 10:30 p.m. (11:30 GMT)

The robbery capped a journey that began when Djokovic, the world’s best men’s player, was first arrested by immigration authorities on January 6, released by a court on January 10 and then detained in new Saturday.

Djokovic said after the decision he was extremely disappointed as it meant he couldn’t take part in the tournament, which starts on Monday.

“I respect the Court’s decision and will cooperate with the relevant authorities regarding my departure from the country,” he said in a statement, and wished the tournament luck.

Djokovic, 34, had appealed against Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s use of discretion to cancel his visa. The minister had said Djokovic could be a threat to public order as his presence would boost anti-vaccination sentiment amid Australia’s worst virus outbreak.

Chief Justice James Allsop said the court’s decision was based on the legality and legality of the minister’s decision in the context of the three grounds of appeal filed by Djokovic’s legal team.

“It is not part of the court’s function to rule on the merits or the wisdom of the decision,” Allsop said, adding that the three judges were unanimous in their decision. The full reasoning behind the decision will be released in the coming days, he said.

It was not immediately clear when Djokovic would leave the country.


The player’s visa saga has made headlines around the world and fueled a debate about the rights of people who choose not to be vaccinated as governments take action to protect their people from the coronavirus pandemic. year.

The controversy has become a political touchstone for Prime Minister Scott Morrison as he prepares for an election due in May. His government has been criticized for its handling of Djokovic’s visa application.

Morrison welcomed the court’s decision, saying it will help “keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe”.

“Now is the time to pursue the Australian Open and start enjoying tennis again this summer,” he said in a statement.

Djokovic had obtained a visa to enter Australia, with a COVID-19 infection on December 16 forming the basis of a medical exemption from Australian requirements that all visitors must be vaccinated. The exemption was organized by Tennis Australia.

The exemption has sparked widespread anger in Australia, which has suffered some of the toughest COVID-19 lockdowns in the world and where more than 90% of adults are vaccinated. The government said a recent infection alone did not meet its exemption standards.


But the player has also had support, especially in his native Serbia and from Serbs living in Australia.

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on Sunday: “I think the court ruling is outrageous, I’m disappointed, I think it demonstrated how the rule of law works or better doesn’t work in some other countries. “.

In Melbourne, around 70 Djokovic fans, including young children, sang folk songs and chanted in Federal Court Square as they awaited the court’s decision.

They gathered around a loudspeaker to hear the judge read the ruling, but it took several minutes after the court adjourned before they realized Djokovic had lost. Two women wept, while others chanted for a few moments before the crowd dispersed.

“What they did today was anything but justice,” said Natasha Marjnovic, 44, a Djokovic supporter who was wiping away tears. “They killed a beautiful sportsman and his career and for all of us who love tennis.”

In Serbia, people expressed their anger at the treatment of their sports hero. President Aleksandar Vucic on Friday slammed the Australian government for what he called the “harassment and intimidation (of)… the greatest tennis player of all time”.

Vucic said on Sunday that he spoke to the player after the court ruling. “I told him we were looking forward to seeing him,” he told reporters. “I told him he was always welcome in Serbia.”

The ATP, the governing body of men’s tennis, said “today’s decision to uphold the cancellation of Novak Djokovic’s Australian visa marks the end of a series of deeply regrettable events”.

He added in a statement that the decisions of the judicial authorities in matters of public health must be respected.

Tennis Australia said it respects the decision.

On the tennis circuit, fellow players had grown impatient for the media circus around Djokovic to end as he had become an unwelcome distraction, casting uncertainty over the tournament draw.

But many have expressed sympathy for Djokovic after his court defeat.

“There was a political agenda at play here with the upcoming election that couldn’t be more evident,” Vasek Pospisil, a Canadian tennis player, tweeted.

“It’s not his fault.”


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