Novak Djokovic to be deported after court rejects tennis champ's appeal

Novak Djokovic to be deported after court rejects tennis champ's appeal

NOVAK DJOKOVIC is set to be deported from Australia after a court rejected his appeal to stay in the country.

The decision ends the Serbian's hopes of taking part in the Australian Open, which is set to get underway tomorrow.

The world's top-ranked male tennis player had hoped to defend his title, having won the competition in each of the last three years.

'Co-operate with authorities'

"I will co-operate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country," Djokovic said in a statement.

"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."

'Decision in public interest'

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed the decision, saying it was important to protect the country's borders and its people.

"The Full Federal Court of Australia unanimously decided to dismiss Mr Novak Djokovic's application for judicial review which sought to challenge the Minister for Immigration's decision to cancel his visa," said Mr Morrison.

"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.

"I welcome the decision to keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe."

Visa saga

Djokovic, 34, had originally arrived in Australia on January 5 only for his visa to be cancelled the following morning.

That decision was overturned on January 10 after a court ruled Djokovic wasn't given a fair opportunity to challenge the visa cancellation.

Four days later, his visa was again cancelled on "health and good order grounds".

That followed Djokovic's admission that mistakes were made on his visa application and that he had breached Covid-19 isolation guidelines before arriving in Australia after testing positive.

The three-man panel today unanimously ruled against Djokovic's latest appeal.

Lucky Loser

Tennis Australia said the Serbian's place in the Open will now be filled by a player who lost during qualifying.

"Tennis Australia respects the decision of the Federal Court," the organisation said in a statement.

"As per Grand Slam rules, the No.1 position in the draw has been filled by a Lucky Loser."

It added: "We look forward to a competitive and exciting Australian Open 2022 and wish all the players the best of luck."

Italian Salvatore Caruso will now take Djokovic's place against Miomir Kecmanovic on Monday.

Djokovic first won the Australian Open in 2008 and has gone on to win the competition a record nine times.

A fourth successive victory would have seen him become the outright Grand Slam record holder, being currently tied for first with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer on 20.