Novak Djokovic will not be defending his Australian Open title.
On Sunday, the world’s number one tennis player lost his appeal to remain in Australia after his visa was canceled a second time on Friday due to his decision to remain unvaccinated.
According to The Age — an Australian news outlet — Djokovic is being deported due to the risk that his “vaccine skepticism posed a risk to public health and good order of Australian society.’
“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,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement.
“I welcome the decision to keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe.
PM Scott Morrison statement on Novak Djokovic: “Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected” #auspol pic.twitter.com/LRYArRywuR
— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) January 16, 2022
The Age reports that Djokovic was deported Sunday evening on a flight to Dubai.
“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,” Djokovic said in a statement.
“I respect the court’s ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country,” he continued. “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.”
Following a successful appeal of the Australian government’s decision to initially revoke his visa, Djokovic had his visa canceled a second time on Friday.
“Today I exercised my power under section 133C(3) of the Migration Act to cancel the visa held by Mr Novak Djokovic on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so,” Australian Minister for Immigration Alex Hawke said in a statement.
“The Morrison government is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement continued.
As reported by The Guardian, Hawke also discussed the potential for “civil unrest” in Australia due to Djokovic’s vaccination status.
“I consider that Mr Djokovic’s ongoing presence in Australia may lead to an increase in anti-vaccination sentiment generated in the Australian community, potentially leading to an increase in civil unrest of the kind previously experienced in Australia with rallies and protests which may themselves be a source of community transmission,” Hawke said.
The nine-time winner of the Australian Open first had his visa canceled on Thursday, January 6, by Australian authorities after he “failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia.”
Djokovic arrived in Australia Wednesday, January 5, in order to participate in the 2022 Australian Open, and after a lengthy standoff with Australian officials, was told that he would not be allowed into the country. Djokovic’s medical exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine — which was granted by Tennis Australia and the Victorian government — was the reason for the standoff.
The Victorian government is a state-level authority.
“The visa for Novak Djokovic has been cancelled,” Australian Minister for Health Greg Hunt said Wednesday. “Obviously, that follows a review of the exemption which was provided by the Victorian government process. They were looking at the integrity and the evidence behind it.”
“It’s a matter to him whether he wishes to appeal that, but if a visa is canceled, someone will have to leave the country,” Hunt continued.
Djokovic’s lawyers challenged the decision by Australian authorities, and it emerged that Djokovic was granted the medical exemption due to recovering from COVID-19 in December 2021.
“Mr Djokovic had received, on 30 December 2021, a letter from the Chief Medical Officer of Tennis Australia recording that he had been provided with a ‘Medical exemption from COVID vaccination’ on the grounds that he had recently recovered from COVID,” according to documents published by Australia’s Federal Circuit Court on Saturday.
The case quickly gained worldwide attention, with both of Djokovic’s parents speaking out on the situation after having conversations with their son. The president of Serbia — Djokovic’s home country — also spoke out in support of the tennis star, calling it a “political witch hunt.”
The Australian Open begins January 16 and runs through January 31.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to email@example.com.