MELBOURNE, Australia — Novak Djokovic was deported from Australia on Sunday after shedding a bid to remain within the nation to defend his Australian Open title regardless of not being vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19.
A masked Djokovic was photographed in a Melbourne airport lounge with two authorities officers in black uniforms earlier than he left for Dubai. It’s not clear the place he’ll go from there. Among the many prospects are Spain, Monaco or his native Serbia, the place he has an nearly iconic standing and would probably be greeted with a hero’s welcome.
The No. 1-ranked tennis star has spent the previous 10 days on the middle of a dizzying drama over his vaccination standing that has polarized opinion worldwide and struck a chord in Australia, the place coronavirus instances are surging.
The 34-year-old mentioned he was “extraordinarily disillusioned” by a court docket’s determination Sunday that led to his deportation. However he added that he revered the ruling and would cooperate with authorities.
The saga started when Djokovic was granted an exemption to strict vaccination guidelines by two medical panels and Tennis Australia in an effort to play within the Australian Open. That exemption, based mostly on proof that he lately recovered from COVID-19, apparently allowed him to obtain a visa to enter Australia. However upon arrival, border officers mentioned the exemption was not legitimate and moved to deport him.
The following back-and-forth raised questions of whether or not Djokovic was unfairly given particular remedy or unfairly singled out due to his superstar standing and noticed many complain that the drawn-out battle on the very least made Australia look unhealthy.
A court docket initially dominated on procedural grounds that Djokovic might keep, however Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, who has broad powers, later determined to deport him. Along with not being inoculated in opposition to the coronavirus, Djokovic is a vocal vaccine skeptic, and the federal government mentioned his presence might fire up anti-vaccine sentiments.
Three Federal Court docket judges unanimously upheld the immigration minister’s determination.
Djokovic mentioned he was “uncomfortable” that the main focus had been on him since his visa was first canceled on Jan. 6.
“I hope that we are able to all now deal with the sport and event I really like,” he mentioned. “I’ll now be taking a while to relaxation and to recuperate, earlier than making any additional feedback past this.”
The choice dashes Djokovic’s hopes of successful a file twenty first Grand Slam title. He’s at present tied with rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for essentially the most Grand Slam singles trophies in males’s tennis.
A deportation order might additionally ban him from Australia for 3 years — holding the participant from the event he has gained a file 9 instances within the coming years.
Simply because the case has all alongside, the choice to deport Djokovic break up opinion.
In Serbia, the place Djokovic has acquired overwhelming assist, President Aleksandar Vucic mentioned the listening to was “a farce with quite a lot of lies.”
“They suppose that they humiliated Djokovic with this 10-day harassment, and so they really humiliated themselves. If you happen to mentioned that the one who was not vaccinated has no proper to enter, Novak wouldn’t come or can be vaccinated,” Vucic informed reporters.
Again in Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison hailed the choice as one “to maintain our borders robust and maintain Australians protected.”
Hawke, the immigration minister, mentioned these robust border insurance policies “are additionally elementary to safe-guarding Australia’s social cohesion which continues to strengthen regardless of the pandemic.”
However opposition spokesperson on the house affairs portfolio, Kristina Keneally, mentioned Djokovic was being deported for what he mentioned and did publicly abroad earlier than the federal government gave him a visa in November.
“This mess isn’t a failure of our legal guidelines. It’s a failure of Morrison’s competence & management,” Keneally tweeted.
The pandemic response has develop into politically charged forward of elections, due by Might, when Morrison’s conservative coalition will search one other time period.
An infection charges have soared throughout a lot of Australian since December when Morrison’s authorities relaxed what had been a number of the democratic world’s hardest restrictions on worldwide journey.
Concern over surging infections hung over Djokovic’s case. Hawke referred to as the top-ranked participant a “talisman of a group of anti-vaccination sentiment.”
The participant has actually develop into an unwitting hero to the anti-vax motion. On Sunday, a protester at a rally in Amsterdam in opposition to the Dutch authorities’s virus lockdown brandished an indication supporting Djokovic.
Hawke’s lawyer Stephen Lloyd additionally famous that Djokovic has a “historical past of ignoring COVID security measures.”
Lloyd raised the instance of Djokovic giving a French newspaper journalist an interview final month whereas he was contaminated with COVID-19 and taking off his masks throughout a photograph shoot. Djokovic has acknowledged the interview was an error of judgment.
The minister canceled the visa on the grounds that Djokovic’s presence in Australia could also be a danger to the well being and “good order” of the Australian public and “could also be counterproductive to efforts at vaccination by others in Australia.”
However the determination didn’t sit nicely with some.
Vasek Pospisil, a Canadian who gained the 2014 Wimbledon males’s doubles title and has labored with Djokovic to kind an affiliation to symbolize gamers, tweeted: “There was a political agenda at play right here with the (Australian) elections arising which couldn’t be extra apparent. This isn’t his fault. He didn’t drive his approach into the nation and didn’t ‘make his personal guidelines’; he was prepared to remain residence.”
Pospisil wrote that Djokovic wouldn’t have tried to go to Australia in any respect and would have “been residence along with his household” had he not acquired the medical exemption.
As a result of Djokovic has withdrawn from the event after Monday’s schedule was launched, he has been changed within the area by what’s referred to as a “fortunate loser” — a participant who loses within the qualifying event however will get into the primary draw due to one other participant’s exit earlier than competitors has began.
That participant is Italian Salvatore Caruso, who’s ranked a hundred and fiftieth on the earth.