Tuesday, May 17, 2022

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Djokovic loses appeal, to be deported from Australia

Novak Djokovic is set to be deported from Australia after losing a last-ditch court bid to stay in the country for the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Judges rejected his challenge to the government’s decision to cancel the unvaccinated player’s visa on “health and good order” grounds.

The Serbian world number one’s hopes of defending his Australian Open title and winning a record 21st Grand Slam in Melbourne are over.

Djokovic said he was “extremely disappointed” but accepted the ruling.

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

His supporters fell silent outside the courtroom as the decision was announced.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed “the decision to keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe”.

“Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected,” he said.

Djokovic launched the case after Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used his ministerial powers to cancel the Serbian player’s visa, arguing that his presence in the country risked fanning anti-vaccine sentiment.

It was the second time his visa had been revoked, after a first cancellation over not following Covid entry rules was overturned by a different judge.

Chief Justice James Allsop said the federal court’s ruling was based on the lawfulness and legality of the minister’s decision, not on the “merits or wisdom of that decision”.

Full reasoning for the ruling will be made public in the coming days, he said.

Deportation orders usually include a three-year ban on returning to Australia, though this can be waived in certain circumstances.

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