Humiliated Novak Djokovic lands back in Serbia to a hero’s welcome after being deported from Australia as he now faces being ousted from the French Open after politicians voted in law banning all unvaccinated people from entering sports arenas
- Novak Djokovic arrived in Serbia on Monday after being kicked out of Australia
- The tennis champion spent 11 days unsuccessfully battling to maintain his visa
- The controversial court decision has sparked fury among the world no. 1’s fans
- Players concerned champion’s absence undermines whoever wins Open title
- Civil rights advocates fear the legal case sets a worrying precedent for visitors
- They argue anyone with ‘undesirable’ political views could now be deported
Humiliated Novak Djokovic has landed back in Serbia to a hero’s welcome after being deported from Australia ahead of the Australian Grand Slam starting today.
The defeated tennis star was booted out of Melbourne after the Australian government cancelled his visa for the second time following a legal battle – and banned him from entering the country for another three years.
He now faces being ousted from the French Open after politicians voted in a law banning all unvaccinated people from entering sports areas.
A mask-wearing Djokovic, 34, took selfies with staff and fans after touching down in the Serbian capital Belgrade on a flight from Dubai after his name was taped over on the official Australian Open draw.
Fans gathered outside Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla airport on Monday morning chanting ‘You are our champion, Novak!’ as the tennis star touched down.
Supporters held a banner reading ‘Novak, God bless you’, and waved Serbian flags as the tennis star received a hero’s welcome in his home city.
Djokovic left Australia late on Sunday night after 11 days of remarkable legal wrangling saw the tennis champion finally exhaust his options.
He was escorted to Melbourne Airport by police on Sunday evening and boarded an Emirates flight to Dubai about 10.30pm, before an onward journey to Belgrade.
The Australian Open will go ahead without the 2021 champion today, with world No.150 Salvatore Caruso taking Djokovic’s place at the top of the draw.
But there are concerns the absence of the defending champion may cast a shadow over this year’s tournament – with suggestions there should be an asterisk against the name of the eventual winner because they will not have faced the Serb.
Humiliated Novak Djokovic touched down in Belgrade, Serbia, this morning after he and his entourage were deported from Australia following a week-long battle of the unvaccinated tennis star’s visa
Djokovic, seen landing in Belgrade on Monday, now faces being ousted from the French Open after politicians voted in a law banning all unvaccinated people from entering sports areas
The defeated tennis star posed for selfies with fans as he enjoyed a hero’s welcome in Belgrade on Monday despite being deported from Australia and banned from entering the country for three years
Djokovic, who is unvaccinated, may now face trouble playing at the next Grand Slam in Paris after the French government passed a law banning unvaccinated people from sports stadiums
Novak Djokovic arrived at Nikola Tesla Airport on Monday morning after touching down from Melbourne after he was deported amid a row over the unvaccinated player’s visa
Fans, some carrying Serbian flags, gathered outside the airport in the Serbian capital Belgrade as tennis star Novak Djokovic touched down after being deported from Australia
Unvaccinated Novak Djokovic landed in Belgrade, the Serbian capital, on Monday to a hero’s welcome after being deported from Australia amid a visa debacle
Supporters of Novak Djokovic hold a banner reading ‘Novak, God bless you’ outside Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Airport on Monday as the tennis star receives a hero’s welcome
Fans of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic wave national flags as they wait for his arrival at Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade on Monday
A support of Djokovic flies a flag as he welcomes the defeated tennis player home on Monday as the Australian Open gets underway without the 2021 champion
Djokovic and his brother were seen leaving Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Airport on Monday after the tennis star touched down from Dubai
Djokovic could also face more trouble at the next Grand Slam – after France insisted on a Covid pass barring the unvaccinated from all sports arenas.
The French Open is the next Slam in the tennis calendar taking place in May and Djokovic was expected to participate without complication – but the new Covid Pass has changed that.
France’s lower house voted by 215 to 58 to give final approval to a vaccine pass that will exclude the unvaccinated from restaurants, sports arenas and other venues.
It will apply to everybody over the age of 16 and the law is expected to take effect by the end of the week, throwing Djokovic’s appearance at Roland Garros into doubt.
‘The rule is simple. The vaccine pass will be imposed, as soon as the law is promulgated, in establishments that were already subject to the health pass,’ the ministry said in a statement today.
‘This will apply to everyone who is a spectator or a professional sportsperson. And this until further notice.
‘Now, as far as Roland Garros is concerned, it’s in May. The situation may change between now and then and we hope that it will be more favourable. So we’ll see, but clearly there’s no exemption.’
Stanislas Guerin, who represents the 17th and 18th arrondissements in Paris, said: ‘Djokovic’s behaviour was irresponsible. Australia is a sovereign country which makes it rules and the rules should be respected.
‘We can’t have two weights and two measures regarding the Covid Pass. If you are called Djokovic, Nadal or Mr Whoever, you respect the rules.
‘All the big events which will take place in France will adopt the Covid Pass. Who would understand if we asked our citizens to make an effort and respect the rules and we then authorised some to get out of them?’
Humiliated Novak Djokovic touched down in Dubai (pictured) to hear confirmation he has been banned from entering Australia for three years after his visa was cancelled
There are concerns that this year’s grand slam title winner will be undermined by the absence of defending champion Novak Djokovic (pictured arriving in Dubai on Monday)
The Serbian tennis star posed for selfies with staff and fans as he moved through the airport after he was kicked out of Australia over the visa row (pictured, Djokovic’s arrival in Dubai on Monday)
But as he touched down in the United Arab Emirates, the Australia Open was kicking off without him in Melbourne (pictured, Djokovic’s arrival in Dubai on Monday)
Novak Djokovic arrived at Dubai airport on Monday carrying his tennis racquets (pictured) after he was kicked out before he could defend his Australian Open crown
In an interview with the Today Show on Monday, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews confirmed the three year ban was the outcome of the court decision (pictured, Djokovic’s arrival in Dubai on Monday)
Novak Djokovic (pictured) left Australia late on Sunday night after 11 days of remarkable legal wrangling saw the tennis champion finally exhaust his options
In an interview with the Today Show on Monday, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews confirmed the three year ban was the outcome of the court decision.
‘The visa was cancelled by [Immigration] Minister Hawke,’ Ms Andrews said.
‘That cancellation was upheld by the Federal Court, so as a result of that, he will be banned from entry for three years into the country.’
Ms Andrews said should Djokovic return to Australia with compelling reasons in the future ‘that may be looked at but that’s all hypothetical at this point.’
Djokovic left Australia late on Sunday night after 11 days of remarkable legal wrangling saw the tennis champion finally exhaust his options, with the full bench of the Federal Court siding with Minister Hawke.
Djokovic lost his last-ditch bid to stay in Melbourne and compete in the Australian Open on Sunday after three federal court judges unanimously ruled he did not have grounds to dispute Mr Hawke’s visa cancellation.
But the controversial decision was met with shock by his fans, family and politicians back in Serbia, with Djokovic’s outraged father labelling it an ‘assassination attempt’ against his son and President Aleksandar Vucic accused Australian officials of ‘lying’.
But Scott Morrison, and millions of Australians, supported the move, with the prime minister saying he ‘welcomed the decision to keep our borders strong’.
He did add that despite the three-year ban there could be room for the tennis ace to travel back to Australia.
‘It does go over a three-year period but there is the opportunity for them to return in the right circumstances, and that will be considered at the time’.
Mr Morrison was also forced to dismiss bizarre claims by the Serbian president that the tennis superstar’s prolonged stints in immigration detention amounted to ‘physical torture’.
‘Well, it’s very clear that Australia has not tortured Mr Djokovic.’ Mr Morrison told 2GB on Monday.
He was escorted to Melbourne Airport by police on Sunday evening and boarded an Emirates flight to Dubai about 10.30pm, and will transit on to Spain (pictured, Djokovic’s arrival in Dubai on Monday)
Novak Djokovic’s outraged father labelled it an ‘assassination attempt’ against his son and President Aleksandar Vucic accused Australian officials of ‘lying’ (pictured, Djokovic’s arrival in Dubai on Monday)
Some have suggested there should be an asterisk against the name of whoever wins the trophy in 2022 because they would not have faced the Serb.
But Nick Kyrgios’ first round opponent Liam Brody has dismissed the idea.
‘I hate the argument that there should be an asterisk next to this years winner of the Australian Open,’ he posted on Twitter.
‘That would mean every tournament that the world number 1 doesn’t play should have an asterisk next to it.
‘For most of the 60s the best players didn’t even play the slams.’
He added: ‘I love Novak I think he is the GOAT [greatest of all-time] but if you think for a single second whoever wins the Australian Open will be thinking anything about Novak playing or not once they’ve lifted the trophy then you are mad.’
Novak Djokovic’s name is taped over (pictured) on the official draw for the Australian Open Grand Slam after the former top seed was ordered to leave the country
Crowds braved the risk of Covid infection on the first day of the Australian Open on Monday (pictured)
Crowds turned out in force at the Australian Open (pictured) despite the missing champ
Tennis fans wore masks and checked in at the Australian Open on Monday (pictured)
Djokovic (pictured with team at Melbourne Airport on Sunday night) organised to leave Australia within hours of losing his appeal
Novak Djokovic is escorted through Melbourne Airport on Sunday night (pictured centre)
The prominent Belgrade Tower in the Serbian capital was lit up with Djokovic’s nickname ‘Nole’ overnight (pictured)
The 34-year-old, who has been ordered to pay the federal government’s legal costs, said he was ‘extremely disappointed’ with the court’s decision to dismiss his application but that he respected its ruling.
Ms Andrews on Monday acknowledged there were some ‘issues’ around the interview process after the world No.1 was stopped at Melbourne Airport but Djokovic was not entitled to enter the country – despite being granted a visa before arriving.
‘Anyone coming into Australia it is their responsibility that they are meeting the entry requirements… just because you have a valid visa does not guarantee you will be able to enter Australia,’ she said.
‘What was given to Mr Djokovic on arrival in Australia – before he cleared our immigration processes – was the opportunity to be able to produce the documentation that was needed, which he could not.’
Djokovic looks down at his phone as he is marched through Melbourne Airport on Sunday night (pictured) before taking an Emirates flight to Dubai
AFP officers stand nearby as tennis superstar Novak Djokovic (pictured back right) sits ands waits for his flight out of Australia
‘He wasn’t fully-vaccinated, which is a requirement. If you are not you have to be able to provide medical evidence to support there is a medical reason why you can’t be vaccinated – that was the issue at the border.’
The world No.1 was required to prove to the court that Mr Hawke acted irrationally or legally unreasonably in choosing to use his discretionary powers under section 133C (3) of the Migration Act to revoke Djokovic’s visa.
Chief justice of the Federal Court of Australia, James Allsop pointed out it was ‘no part of the function of the court to decide upon the merits or wisdom’ of the immigration minister’s decision but had to view the case on a legal basis.
Mr Hawke said his decision on Friday was based on ‘health and good order grounds’, claiming the unvaccinated sporting celebrity’s presence in Australia could excite anti-vaccination sentiment.
REACTION FROM DJOKOVIC’S SUPPORTERS
His father, Srdjan Djokovic: ‘The assassination attempt on the best sportsman in the world is over, 50 bullets to Novak’s chest – after all, he gives support to a young 17-year-old player, so that’s Nole, a man, a brother, see you in Paris.’
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic: ‘You saw in the pointless court proceeding how much the prosecution lied.
‘They are simply lying. They say there are fewer than 50 per cent vaccinated people in Serbia and officially the number is 58 per cent.
‘Don’t forget that’s higher than in many European Union countries. That was a pointless argument, but that’s possible in Orwellian performances.’
French tennis star Alize Cornet: ‘What I know is that Novak is always the first one to stand for the players. No none of us stood for him. Be strong.’
Nick Kyrgios: Posted a ‘facepalm’ emoji after the ruling, and has been vocal about how badly he thinks Djokovic has been treated
Djokovic released a statement as he left the country.
‘I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country,’ he said.
‘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 will now be taking some time to rest and to recuperate, before making any further comments beyond this.’
Given the approval of Mr Hawke’s order, Djokovic will be barred from travelling Down Under until 2025 as those subjected to rulings under that part of the Migration Act are unable to be granted visas while offshore for a duration of three years.
Home Affairs Minster Karen Andrews (pictured) confirmed on Monday that Djokovic would be banned from the country for three years
Novak Djokovic (pictured at Melbourne Airport on Sunday with his team) have left Australia on an Emirates flight to Dubai – just hours after his 11 hour appeal was denied
The sanction can be waived in certain situations, including compassionate or compelling circumstances that affect the interests of Australia.
In Djokovic’s case, this could be argued to include his presence at future Australian Open tournaments in 2023 and 2024 if the pandemic is over.
Kurdish-Iranian writer Behrouz Boochani who was held in an offshore detention centre for four years said the case highlighted the treatment of refugees.
‘While Djokovic has a safe, comfortable life to return to, refugees who flee their homes only to be deported are doubly persecuted. They cannot return safely. This is what it means to be a refugee,’ he tweeted.
The extraordinary ruling brought to an end a dramatic saga that saw the court sit for five hours on Sunday during its summer holiday, a highly unusual event that reflected the urgency and high stakes of the case.
Prime Minister Morrison thanked the court for its prompt attention to the matter and welcomed the decision.
Fans are seen outside Djokovic’s lawyers offices in Melbourne on Sunday moments before the decision was announced
Novak Djokovic’s high-powered legal team, led by Nick Wood in the centre, lost in their attempt to have the tennis ace play in the Australian Open. He has since left the country
The court ruling has cost the world no. 1 (pictured training in Melbourne on Thursday) the chance to score a record 21st grand slam title at the 2022 Australian Open
IS NOVAK BANNED FROM AUSTRALIA?
Given the approval of Mr Hawke’s order, Djokovic is barred from travelling Down Under until 2025 as those subjected to rulings under that part of the Migration Act are unable to be granted visas while offshore for a duration of three years.
But the sanction can be waived in certain situations.
These include compassionate or compelling circumstances that affect the interests of Australia, which, in Djokovic’s case, could be argued includes his presence at the Australian Open tournaments in 2023 and 2024.
‘This cancellation decision was made on health, safety and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so,’ he said in a statement.
‘Strong borders are fundamental to the Australian way of life as is the rule of law.’
Djokovic, who had been holed up in a detention hotel since his visa was revoked for a second time on Friday, left briefly on Sunday to be driven to his lawyer’s office to watch the court proceedings.
Less than three hours after the verdict, he walked through Melbourne Airport in a face mask along with his team – including coach and Grand Slam winner Goran Ivanisevic – at 8.30pm.
Flanked by his entourage, the elite sport star held his head high as baffled members of the public watched as officials accompanied the group to the boarding gate.
Djokovic and his team departed the country at 10.30pm on an Emirates flight to Dubai, where they will likely jet back to Europe.
Lawyers for Djokovic and the federal government on Sunday duelled over his potential impact on anti-vaccination sentiment in Australia as more than 85,000 people watched the case broadcast live on YouTube.
Fans around the world have thrown their support behind the tennis star (pictured with his wife Jelena) in the wake of the court decision
Goran Ivanisevic, Novak Djokovic’s coach and a former Grand Slam winner himself is seen sitting in a van leaving his lawyer’s office after the disappointing court outcome for his team
The official Australian Open draw with Novak Djokovic’s name taped over (at top)
Djokovic’s lawyers argued that Mr Hawke failed to consider the way anti-vaxxers would be energised by a government decision to deport Djokovic, and had been too fixated on the risks posed by his ongoing presence.
Mr Hawke said he assumed Djokovic had recently been infected with Covid and was a ‘negligible’ risk of transmitting the disease to anybody else.
Instead, the immigration minister cited Djokovic’s high profile and previous statements against vaccination that meant others might refuse to be vaccinated and could even lead to civil unrest.
Legal experts had considered that Djokovic faced an uphill battle given the broad power Mr Hawke has under the Migration Act to cancel the visa.
Chief Justice James Allsop noted the international interest in the case, including in Djokovic’s home country, before delivering the ruling on Sunday evening.
Djokovic supporters in Melbourne have been out in full force all week (pictured on January 10) amid fears his deportation could see violent clashes with police
He explained that the decision did not involve an appeal against the decision of the Australian government.
Instead it was a judicial review hearing focused on whether the government’s decision was ‘irrational or unreasonable’ in a way that made it unlawful, he explained.
‘It is not part of the function of the court to decide upon the merits or wisdom of the decision,’ Chief Justice Allsop said.
Full reasons for the decision will be released in the coming days.
Djokovic’s visa was first cancelled by Australian Border Force officials when he touched down in Melbourne on January 5 on the basis that he didn’t have an exemption from the requirement to be vaccinated.
That decision was revoked through a federal court appeal and the visa reinstated on Monday, allowing the elite athlete to be temporarily freed from a notorious immigration detention facility.
The tennis star flew back to Dubai, where his flight to Melbourne originated, on an Emirates flight (pictured) on Sunday night
Days later, he was carted back to the hotel after Mr Hawke overruled the decision, citing ‘public risk’ concerns after reports emerged the high-profile athlete was being investigated in Serbia and Spain over potential Covid breaches.
The landmark verdict also means the top men’s tennis player will not only miss the chance to contest his title, but the opportunity to secure a record 21st Grand Slam victory – pushing him ahead of fellow greats Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Furore has erupted across the globe as outraged Djokovic fans react to the abrupt decision, with dozens of demonstrators hitting the streets outside Melbourne’s federal Court buildings on Sunday with Serbian flags.
Meanwhile, in Djokovic’s homeland, an army of supporters have rallied behind the tennis player, with President Aleksandar Vucic accusing Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison of playing politics with the visa due to the upcoming election.
Djokovic is seen with his team at Melbourne Airport on Sunday as he headed to board a flight to Dubai
‘You saw in the pointless court proceeding how much the prosecution lied,’ President Vucic said.
‘They are simply lying. They say there are fewer than 50 per cent vaccinated people in Serbia and officially the number is 58 per cent.
‘Don’t forget that’s higher than in many European Union countries. That was a pointless argument, but that’s possible in Orwellian performances.’
The superstar athlete’s father Srdjan Djokovic fired up his Instagram account after his son’s deportation to weigh in on the debacle.
‘The assassination attempt on the best sportsman in the world is over, 50 bullets to Novak’s chest – after all, he gives support to a young 17-year-old player, so that’s Nole, a man, a brother, see you in Paris,’ Djokovic senior posted.
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said it was ‘unbelievable’ two opposing court decisions were reached over a few days, claiming the athlete was subjected to 11 days of ‘physical and psychological mistreatment’.
Djokovic (pictured after winning the Australian Open in 2021) had been hoping to win a record 21st Grand Slam title
‘As the Prime Minister I am not happy, but one should not be too emotional. I cannot wait to see Novak Djokovic in his country, in Serbia, so we can somehow get past this together and support him in these difficult moments,’ Ms Brnabic told reporters in Belgrade.
Serbian Sports Minister Vanja Udovicic denounced the move as ‘hypocrisy’, offering his support to the ‘best player’ in the world.
‘Winner of 20 grand slam titles, the best ever in the world, someone who writes sports history on the planet – that is and will always be Novak Djokovic.
‘Everything else is nonsense and shame, absurdity and a display of hypocrisy! Legend, pride of Serbia, we are with you!’ Mr Udovicic said, according to Serbian media reports.
The court case has also raised concerns in Australia, with civil right advocates claiming the determination paves the way for the government to ban travellers who pose no real risk to the community.
Novak Djokovic’s statement in full after Federal Court loss
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 Court 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 will 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.
Proponents argued one of the reasons tendered by Mr Hawke’s lawyers was ‘weak’ and could leave other travellers with political views ‘arbitrarily’ deemed a threat to national interest banned from arriving on Australian shores.
Citing comments made by Djovokic in April 2020, federal lawyers said the tennis star expressed he was ‘opposed to vaccination’ but was ‘no expert’.
In the statement, made prior to the advent of Covid vaccines, the tennis champion added he had an ‘open mind’ and wanted ‘an option to choose what’s best for my bod’.
The government’s barrister, Stephen Lloyd, SC, argued Djokovic’s views were ‘widely understood’ and he had become an ‘icon’ for anti-vaxxers, and his past statements – along with his public image – may encourage people to refrain from vaccination.
But Pauline Wright, president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, said although his fame and views may reasonably influence others, Djokovic’s past statements do not render him a public health risk.
‘Do the comments in 2020 disentitle him from playing a tennis game in Australia in 2022?’ she told The Age.
‘Does that really pose such a threat to public health in a situation where we’ve got 95 per cent of the adult population vaccinated?’
There were jubilant scenes on the streets on Melbourne last Monday night after Novak Djokovic was freed from immigration detention – with the potential for further clashes now he’s been forced out of Australia
Michael Stanton, a barrister and the president of Liberty Victoria, said the emphasis on how Djokavic’s views may be perceived was ‘particularly unfair’ as it sets an ‘impossible standard for that person to meet’.
Mr Stanton said the focus should have instead been on the seriousness of what he has actually said, and the circumstances were very different from denying someone a visa for saying something inciting violence or encouraging unrest.
He added the situation was ironic given the government’s move to remove the tennis player had put his anti-vaccination views in the international spotlight for the past week.
Ms Wright and Mr Stanton said the case calls to attention the dangers of the Immigration Minister’s ability to make ‘arbitrary decisions’ to cancel someone’s visa if they believe the person may risk public health or good order.
Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesman Greg Barns, SC, echoed their views, arguing Djokovic was a tennis player – not someone travelling to the country to spruik anti-vaccination.
He said the case could set a precedent for anyone to be blocked from entering the country.
Human rights advocacy groups have raised concerns the legal case could spark a new precedent for how Australia handles visas (pictured, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke)
For example, Mr Barns said, a musician who opposed the US-Australia alliance could be denied a visa on the basis they may reduce public support for a Australian foreign policy and national security measure.
‘While we understand the importance of public health … it’s dangerous in a democracy to refuse entry to an individual who happens to have views contrary to government policy, particularly when the person is coming to Australia for a purpose that is unrelated to those views,’ he said.
The outcome of the hearing is also bad news for Tennis Australia, who will have to swiftly rejig the competition draw within hours to accommodate for one less player.
Djokovic had been scheduled to begin his title defence title against fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic on Rod Laver Arena on Monday night after women’s world No.1 Ash Barty’s clash with Lesia Tsurenko.
The blame game over the saga is set to intensify now that Djokovic’s bid to play in the Open is officially over, with Tennis Australia set to be firmly in the crosshairs.
TA has been accused of providing misleading information to players, with some reports indicating the governing body had told players they could be granted an exemption from being fully vaccinated if they could prove they had tested positive to COVID-19 within the previous six months.
TA boss Craig Tiley has largely maintained his silence, except to blame ‘contradictory and conflicting’ information for the saga.
Djokovic (pictured with his wife Jelena) could be banned from Australia for three years under provisions in the Migration Act
Three-time major winner Andy Murray blasted the way Djokovic has been treated.
‘I don’t like he is in this situation and I don’t like he has been in detention,’ Murray said.
‘The situation has not been good all round for anyone. Hopefully, from all sides, from the tournament and from Novak, we can make sure this doesn’t happen at any other tournaments and that something is in place ahead of time.
‘It feels everything here happened extremely last minute and that’s why it became such a s**t show.’
The ATP released a statement saying the decision to uphold Djokovic’s visa cancellation marked the end of a ‘deeply regrettable series of events’.
‘Irrespective of how this point has been reached, Novak is one of our sport’s greatest champions and his absence from the Australian Open is a loss for the game,’ the statement said.
‘We know how turbulent the recent days have been for Novak and how much he wanted to defend his title in Melbourne.’
NOVAK DJOKOVIC’S AUSTRALIAN OPEN EPIC VISA SAGA
Novak Djokovic’s defence of his Australian Open title remains in doubt after Australian immigration officials cancelled his visa for the second time.
Here’s how the saga has unfolded:
Jan 4: Djokovic tweets that he is on his way to the Australian Open under a medical exemption. He writes on Instagram: ‘I’ve spent fantastic quality time with my loved ones over the break and today I’m heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let’s go 2022!!’
Jan 5: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison warns Djokovic he will be on the ‘next plane home’ if his medical exemption is deemed insufficient, and is adamant Djokovic will not receive preferential treatment.
Jan 5: Djokovic’s visa is cancelled upon his arrival in Melbourne. The Australian Border Force announces that the player ‘failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements for Australia’.
Jan 6: Djokovic is sent to the Park Hotel in Melbourne after being refused a visa. He launches an appeal, which is adjourned until 10am on January 10. Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic says Djokovic is the victim of ‘persecution’.
Jan 9: Djokovic’s lawyers claim he was granted a vaccine exemption to enter Australia because he recorded a positive Covid-19 test in Serbia on December 16. However, social media posts suggest he attended a number of social events in the days following his apparent diagnosis.
Jan 10: Djokovic’s visa cancellation is quashed by Judge Anthony Kelly, who orders the Australian Government to pay legal costs and release Djokovic from detention within half-an-hour. Djokovic says he is ‘pleased and grateful’ and wishes to ‘stay and try to compete’.
Jan 11: Djokovic’s title defence remains in doubt as the Australian Immigration Minister ponders whether to over-ride the court’s ruling, reportedly due to an alleged misleading claim made by Djokovic on his entry form relating to his movements in the 14 days prior to arrival in Australia.
Jan 12: Djokovic admits making an ‘error of judgement’ by attending an interview with a French journalist while Covid positive. He adds that, although he attended a children’s tennis event the day after being tested, he did not receive notification of the positive test until after the event.
Jan 13: Djokovic is drawn to face fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round.
Jan 14: Immigration minister Minister Alex Hawke cancels Djokovic’s visa for a second time, saying in a statement it was ‘on health and good order grounds’.
Jan 15: Djokovic’s lawyers have a minor win in court, with the judge agreeing to have the matter heard by a panel of three judges on Sunday – a decision fiercely opposed by the government
Jan 16: Djokovic LOSES his appeal and is told he will be deported. He is later seen at Melbourne Airport as he and his team leave Australia.
Reporting by PA 0
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