MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic was deported from Australia on Sunday after losing a bid to stay in the country to defend his Australian Open title irrespective of not currently being vaccinated towards COVID-19.

A masked Djokovic was photographed in a Melbourne airport lounge with two authorities officials in black uniforms in advance of he still left for Dubai. It’s not clear wherever he will go from there. Among the alternatives are Spain, Monaco or his indigenous Serbia, where by he has an pretty much legendary standing and would probably be greeted with a hero’s welcome.

The No. 1-rated tennis star has put in the earlier 10 days at the centre of a dizzying drama in excess of his vaccination status that has polarized opinion all over the world and struck a chord in Australia, the place coronavirus scenarios are surging.

The 34-year-aged explained he was “extremely disappointed” by a court’s decision Sunday that led to his deportation. But he extra that he respected the ruling and would cooperate with authorities.

The saga started when Djokovic was granted an exemption to demanding vaccination policies by two health-related panels and Tennis Australia in order to enjoy in the Australian Open. That exemption, based mostly on proof that he not long ago recovered from COVID-19, apparently authorized him to receive a visa to enter Australia. But upon arrival, border officials explained the exemption was not legitimate and moved to deport him.

The ensuing back-and-forth elevated concerns of no matter if Djokovic was unfairly presented unique treatment or unfairly singled out because of his movie star status and saw numerous complain that the drawn-out fight at the quite least created Australia seem undesirable.

A court at first dominated on procedural grounds that Djokovic could keep, but Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, who has broad powers, afterwards made the decision to deport him. In addition to not remaining inoculated towards the coronavirus, Djokovic is a vocal vaccine skeptic, and the federal government said his existence could stir up anti-vaccine sentiments.

Three Federal Courtroom judges unanimously upheld the immigration minister’s final decision.

Djokovic reported he was “uncomfortable” that the aim had been on him considering the fact that his visa was 1st canceled on Jan. 6.

“I hope that we can all now aim on the match and tournament I appreciate,” he explained. “I will now be taking some time to relaxation and to recuperate, prior to earning any even more remarks beyond this.”

The decision dashes Djokovic’s hopes of profitable a document 21st Grand Slam title. He is at this time tied with rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most Grand Slam singles trophies in men’s tennis.

A deportation buy could also ban him from Australia for 3 a long time — retaining the participant from the event he has gained a report 9 periods in the coming decades.

Just as the situation has all together, the conclusion to deport Djokovic split opinion.

In Serbia, where by Djokovic has acquired too much to handle aid, President Aleksandar Vucic explained the listening to was “a farce with a good deal of lies.”

“They consider that they humiliated Djokovic with this 10-day harassment, and they basically humiliated by themselves. If you claimed that the one particular who was not vaccinated has no correct to enter, Novak would not arrive or would be vaccinated,” Vucic explained to reporters.

Back again in Australia, Key Minister Scott Morrison hailed the choice as just one “to continue to keep our borders powerful and hold Australians secure.”

Hawke, the immigration minister, mentioned these robust border policies “are also essential to secure-guarding Australia’s social cohesion which proceeds to fortify irrespective of the pandemic.”

But opposition spokesperson on the house affairs portfolio, Kristina Keneally, reported Djokovic was staying deported for what he claimed and did publicly overseas in advance of the 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 grow to be politically billed ahead of elections, owing by Might, when Morrison’s conservative coalition will look for an additional phrase.

An infection fees have soared throughout significantly of Australian considering that December when Morrison’s governing administration calm what had been some of the democratic world’s toughest constraints on global travel.

Concern in excess of surging bacterial infections hung above Djokovic’s scenario. Hawke known as the top-ranked player a “talisman of a community of anti-vaccination sentiment.”

The player has in actuality come to be an unwitting hero to the anti-vax motion. On Sunday, a protester at a rally in Amsterdam from the Dutch government’s virus lockdown brandished a indicator supporting Djokovic.

Hawke’s law firm Stephen Lloyd also observed that Djokovic has a “history of ignoring COVID basic safety measures.”

Lloyd elevated the case in point of Djokovic providing a French newspaper journalist an job interview final month whilst he was infected with COVID-19 and having off his mask for the duration of 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 may well be a danger to the health and “good order” of the Australian community and “may be counterproductive to initiatives at vaccination by other individuals in Australia.”

But the determination did not sit nicely with some.

Vasek Pospisil, a Canadian who won the 2014 Wimbledon men’s doubles title and has worked with Djokovic to kind an affiliation to stand for players, tweeted: “There was a political agenda at engage in right here with the (Australian) elections coming up which could not be far more obvious. This is not his fault. He did not power his way into the nation and did not ‘make his individual rules’ he was completely ready to remain residence.”

Pospisil wrote that Djokovic wouldn’t have tried out to go to Australia at all and would have “been household with his family” had he not gained the medical exemption.

Due to the fact Djokovic has withdrawn from the tournament following Monday’s schedule was unveiled, he has been changed in the field by what is recognised as a “lucky loser” — a participant who loses in the qualifying match but will get into the most important draw due to the fact of one more player’s exit ahead of levels of competition has started off.

That participant is Italian Salvatore Caruso, who is rated 150th in the globe.


Involved Press writers John Pye in Melbourne, Australia, Howard Fendrich in Washington D.C., and Dusan Stojanovic in Belgrade, Serbia, contributed to this report.


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