Breaking: Novak Djokovic leaves Australia

Djokovic 5


Novak Djokovic has been deported from Australia after losing his final appeal against the cancellation of his visa.

The World No 1 was pictured at Melbourne Airport on Sunday leaving the country.

According to Reuters, the 34-year-old star, boarded a mid-morning Emirates flight to Dubai after his plans to chase a record 21st Grand Slam win at the Australian Open were torpedoed by Australian judges.

The flight took off at 10:30 p.m. (1130 GMT).

Djokovic’s departure capped a journey that began when he was first detained by immigration authorities on Jan. 6.

He was ordered released by a court on Jan. 10 and then detained on Saturday again after his visa was cancelled, the second time.

Djokovic said after the ruling he was extremely disappointed as it meant he could not take part in the tournament, which starts on Monday.

“I respect the Court’s ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country,” he said in a statement, and wished the tournament well.

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Djokovic, 34, had appealed against Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s use of discretionary powers to cancel his visa.

The minister had said Djokovic could be a threat to public order because his presence would encourage anti-vaccination sentiment amidst Australia’s worst outbreak of the virus. read more

Chief Justice James Allsop said the court ruling was based on the lawfulness and legality of the minister’s decision in the context of the three grounds of appeal Djokovic’s legal team lodged.

“It is no part of the function of the court to decide upon the merits or wisdom of the decision,” Allsop said, adding that the three judges were unanimous in their ruling.

Full reasoning behind the ruling would be released in coming days, he said.

The player’s visa saga has dominated headlines around the world and fuelled a debate over the rights of people who opt to remain unvaccinated as governments take measures to protect their people from the two-year coronavirus pandemic.

The controversy became a political touchstone for Prime Minister Scott Morrison as he prepares for an election due by May.

His government has faced criticism for its handling of Djokovic’s visa application.

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