Djokovic’s trouble entering Australia has centred around his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19; the Serb is level on 20 Grand Slam titles with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, and has won the Australian Open a record nine times; the tournament begins on Monday in Melbourne

Last Updated: 16/01/22 7:47am

Novak Djokovic said he was ‘extremely disappointed’ with the decision

Novak Djokovic is set to be deported from Australia after the country’s Federal Court rejected an appeal against the re-cancellation of his visa.

Three Federal Court judges upheld a decision made on Friday by the immigration minister to cancel the 34-year-old Serb’s visa on public interest grounds.

The full reasons behind the court’s unanimous ruling will be published in the “coming days”.

There was the possibility of a further legal challenge but it was confirmed half an hour after the ruling that Djokovic was not seeking that option.

Djokovic, whose trouble entering Australia has centred around his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19, had been scheduled to begin his quest on Monday for a record-extending 10th Australian Open title and 21st Grand Slam crown but now looks set to be replaced in the draw.

He is now facing a potential three-year ban from travelling to Australia and will be permitted to return only in “compelling circumstances that affect the national interest”.

Djokovic: I’m extremely disappointed

In a statement via The Age newspaper in Melbourne, Djokovic said: “I would like to make a brief statement to address the outcomes of today’s court hearing. I will now be taking some time to rest and to recuperate, before making any
further comments beyond this.

“I am extremely disappointed with the ruling to dismiss my application for judicial review of the minister’s decision to cancel my visa, which means I cannot 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.

“I am uncomfortable that the focus of the past weeks has been on me and I hope that we can all now focus on the game and tournament I love. I would like to wish the players, tournament officials, staff, volunteers and fans all the best for the tournament.

“Finally, I would like to thank my family, friends, team, supporters, fans and my fellow Serbians for your continued support. You have all been a great source of strength to me.”

Sunday morning’s appeal hearing followed Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s decision on Friday to cancel the world No 1’s visa for a second time on the grounds of “health and good order”.

Government lawyers argued that Djokovic risked whipping up anti-vaccination sentiment during Australia’s worst outbreak of Covid-19 since the pandemic began.

Novak Djokovic – Sequence of events

January 4 – Djokovic announces he will be travelling to Australia with an ‘exemption permission’.
January 5 – While Djokovic is airborne, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the athlete will be on the “next plane home” if he cannot provide “acceptable proof” that his exemption is legitimate.
Acting Sports Minister Jaala Pulford highlights that the local government of Victoria, where the Australian Open is held, will not support Djokovic’s visa application.
The world No 1 arrives at Melbourne Airport around 11.30pm local time.
January 6 – Around 3.15am, Djokovic’s father reports that his son is being held in isolation in Melbourne Airport.
At 5am, Goran Ivanisevic releases an image on social media of himself and another member of Djokovic’s team seemingly waiting for the world No 1. The post is captioned, ‘Not the most usual trip Down Under’.
Around 8.15am local time, Djokovic’s visa is confirmed to have been denied by the Australian Border Force.
Djokovic is moved to quarantine hotel while his legal team appeal visa cancellation.
The appeal against his visa cancellation is adjourned until Monday (Jan 10) morning Australian time.
January 7 – Australia Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews says Djokovic is “free to leave any time” and is not being detained.
Djokovic breaks silence in Instagram post on Friday, thanking his fans for their “continuous support”.
January 8 – Submission from Djokovic’s lawyers on Saturday reveals positive Covid-19 test in December.
January 9 – Home Affairs Minister Andrews has a submission to delay the hearing until Wednesday (Jan 12) rejected by Judge Anthony Kelly.
Submission from Australian government lawyers says Djokovic had not been given an assurance he would be allowed to enter the country with his medical exemption.
January 10 – Djokovic wins appeal. Judge Anthony Kelly quashes visa cancellation, and orders the Australian Government to pay legal costs and release Djokovic from detention.
Djokovic takes to social media to confirm that he remains intent on competing at the Australian Open.
January 12 – Djokovic posts on Instagram admitting to making an “error of judgement” by attending an interview and photoshoot with a French newspaper after testing positive for Covid-19 last month.
January 14 – Novak Djokovic faces deportation after the Australian government revoked his visa for a second time.
January 15 – The case is transferred to the Federal Court of Australia and the appeal hearing is officially set for 9:30 local time on Sunday (Jan 16) morning.
January 16 – Djokovic to be deported after losing federal court appeal

Djokovic’s five nights in detention centre

Djokovic, 34, spent Saturday night in an immigration detention hotel in Melbourne, having previously spent four nights detained after having his visa cancelled upon his arrival in Australia on January 5.

His visa was initially cancelled on the basis that it did not facilitate entry with the medical exemption he had been granted by Tennis Australia and Victoria State government. The exemption had been granted due to Djokovic having recently tested positive for Covid-19.

However, the nine-time Australian Open champion won his initial appeal against the ruling and having been released, was included in Thursday’s first-round draw, in which he was matched with unseeded Serb Miomir Kecmanovic.

After winning his initial appeal, Djokovic admitted he made an “error of judgement” by attending an interview and photoshoot with a French newspaper after testing positive for Covid-19 last month, as well as addressing a false declaration on his travel form as a mistake made by his agent, which he put down as “human error” and “not deliberate”.

There has been criticism of the way the Australian government has handled the situation but public opinion has been firmly in favour of Djokovic being sent home.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has hit out at the Australian government, accusing it of “harassing” and “maltreating” Djokovic, and asking whether it is trying to score political points ahead of upcoming elections.

Nadal: Aus Open will be great ‘with or without’ Djokovic

The Australian Open is more important than a single player and will be a great tournament “with or without” Novak Djokovic, says Rafael Nadal.

Rafael Nadal says that the Australian Open and any event in tennis is more important than a player amid the Djokovic Covid-19 controversy

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Rafael Nadal says that the Australian Open and any event in tennis is more important than a player amid the Djokovic Covid-19 controversy

Rafael Nadal says that the Australian Open and any event in tennis is more important than a player amid the Djokovic Covid-19 controversy

The Spaniard has made it clear on a number of occasions that he disagrees with Djokovic’s resistance to the Covid-19 vaccination and the degree to which his ongoing visa battle has overshadowed the tournament is clearly a frustration to many.

Speaking at his pre-tournament press conference, Nadal said: “It’s very clear that Novak Djokovic is one of the best players of the history, without a doubt. But there is no one player in history that’s more important than an event.

“Australian Open is much more important than any player. If he’s playing finally, OK. If he’s not playing, Australian Open will be a great Australian Open with or without him.”

Nadal added: “From my point of view, there is a lot of questions that need to be answered. In some ways I think it will be good if everything is clarified soon.

“Everyone chooses his road. I wish him all the best. I really respect him, even if I do not agree with a lot of things that he did the last couple of weeks.”


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