TOP News

Sports: Djokovic 'disappointed' with losing deportation appeal

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic spends religious day in detention

  Top-ranked Novak Djokovic spends religious day in detention Regardless of who made an error on the visa or the vaccination waiver or whatever, the reality Friday for tennis No. 1 Novak Djokovic was spending one of his important religious holidays in an Australian detention hotel working on his challenge against deportation. Djokovic has been receiving calls from Serbia, including from his parents and the president, hoping to boost his spirits. A priest from the Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church in Melbourne sought permission from immigration authorities to visit the nine-time Australian Open champion to celebrate the Orthodox Christmas.

  Djokovic 'disappointed' with losing deportation appeal © Provided by The Canadian Press

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic said he was disappointed that a court on Sunday dismissed his challenge to a deportation order and accepted his hopes of playing at the Australian Open were dashed.

The top-ranked tennis star released a statement shortly after three Federal Court judges unanimously upheld a decision made on Friday by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke to cancel the 34-year-old Serb’s visa on public interest grounds because he is not vaccinated for COVID-19.

“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.

Will he stay or will he go? Djokovic's hearing looms large

  Will he stay or will he go? Djokovic's hearing looms large After four nights in an Australian immigration detention hotel, Novak Djokovic will get his day in court Monday in a deportation case that has polarized opinions and elicited heartfelt support for the top-ranked tennis star in his native Serbia. Djokovic had his visa canceled after arriving at Melbourne airport last week when Australian border officials ruled that he didn’t meet the criteria for an exemption to an entry requirement that all non-citizens be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. His lawyers have since filed court papers in his challenge against deportation from Australia that show Djokovic tested positive for COVID-19 last month and recovered.

“I respect the Court’s ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country,” he added.

Djokovic said he was “uncomfortable” that the focus had been on him since his visa was first canceled on arrival at Mebourne's airport on Jan. 6.

“I hope that we can all now focus on the game and tournament I love,” he said.

The decision likely means that Djokovic, who is not vaccinated for COVID-19, will remain in detention in Melbourne until he is deported.

Deportation usually occurs as soon as possible after an order unless prevented by court action. The government has not said when Djokovic will leave.

A deportation order also usually includes a three-year ban on returning to Australia.

Chief Justice James Allsop said the ruling came down to whether the minister's decision was "irrational or legally unreasonable.”

EXPLAINER: How will Australian visa ruling impact Djokovic?

  EXPLAINER: How will Australian visa ruling impact Djokovic? WELLINGTON, New Zealand — As Novak Djokovic awaits a final decision on whether his visa will be revoked, all eyes have turned to Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke. He has to decide whether he will overturn the decision of a federal judge, who ruled Djokovic’s visa should be reinstated because he was unfairly treated by officials at the border. Hawke has discretion to revoke Djokovic’s visa but has taken longer than expected to reach a decision which has legal, political, sporting and diplomatic consequences. © Provided by The Canadian Press ____ WHAT HAPPENS NOW? Whatever Hawke decides, it’s unlikely to be the last word.

Hawke welcome the decision. His office did not immediately provide detail of how or when Djokovic would leave.

“Australia’s strong border protection policies have kept us safe during the pandemic, resulting in one of the lowest death rates, strongest economic recoveries, and highest vaccination rates in the world,” Hawke said in a statement.

“Strong border protection policies are also fundamental to safe-guarding Australia’s social cohesion which continues to strengthen despite the pandemic,” he added.

Djokovic could potentially appeal to the High Court, but not in time for him to compete in the Australian tournament.

“I will now be taking some time to rest and to recuperate, before making any further comments beyond this,” he said.

The court process that Djokovic had hoped would keep his aspirations alive for a 21st Grand Slam title was extraordinarily fast by Australian standards.

Double-fault: Visa revoked again, Djokovic faces deportation

  Double-fault: Visa revoked again, Djokovic faces deportation MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic faces deportation again after the Australian government revoked his visa for a second time, the latest twist in the ongoing saga over whether the No. 1-ranked tennis player will be allowed to compete in the Australian Open despite being unvaccinated for COVID-19. Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said Friday he used his ministerial discretion to cancel the 34-year-old Serb’s visa on public interest grounds — just three days before play begins at the Australian Open, where Djokovic has won a record nine of his 20 Grand Slam titles.

Within three hours of Hawke's announcement on Friday afternoon that Djokovic's visa was canceled, his lawyers went before a Federal Circuit and Family Court judge to initiate their challenge to the decision. The case was elevated to the Federal Court on Saturday and submissions were filed by both sides that same day.

The three judges heard the case over five hours on Sunday and announced their verdict two hours later.

Between the end of the hearing and the verdict, Tennis Australia, the tournament's organizer, had announced that Djokovic was scheduled to play the last match on Monday at the Rod Laver Arena.

He was due to play Miomir Kecmanovic, a fellow Serb ranked 78th in the world.

Tennis Australia had no immediate comment on the star player's legal defeat.

The minister canceled the visa on the grounds that Djokovic’s presence in Australia may be a risk to the health and “good order” of the Australian public and “may be counterproductive to efforts at vaccination by others in Australia.”

Djokovic’s visa was initially canceled on Jan. 6 by a border official who decided he didn't qualify for a medical exemption from Australia’s rules for unvaccinated visitors.

Djokovic has won nine Australian Open titles, including three in a row, and a total of 20 Grand Slam singles trophies, tied with rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most in the history of men’s tennis.

Djokovic’s dominance of late has been particularly impressive, winning four of the last seven major tournaments and finishing as the runner-up at two others.

The only time he did not get at least to the final in that span was at the 2020 U.S. Open, where he was disqualified in the fourth round for hitting a ball that inadvertently hit a line judge in the throat after a game.

___

AP Sports Writer John Pye contributed to this report.

___

More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Rod Mcguirk, The Associated Press

Djokovic out, but vaccine debate stays in Australian Open .
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — To some, it seemed a cloud had been lifted from the Australian Open. To others, Novak Djokovic still was almost palpably present, the name on everyone's lips on the opening day of the first major tennis tournament of the year. Djokovic left Australia late Sunday when he failed in his legal challenge to overturn the cancellation of his visa due to his lack of a COVID-19 vaccination. His flight from Melbourne was touching down in Dubai early Monday just as the first matches of the tournament began. As the No. 1-ranked male player and the three-time defending champion, Djokovic would have been the marquee attraction of the tournament.

See also