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Australia deports Novak Djokovic

The Serbian tennis player lost his appeal against the Australian government's deportation decision in court
Novak Djokovic

 -   Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic faces deportation from Australia following the cancellation of his visa by Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, after his appeal to the Australian courts was not accepted. 

A panel of Federal Court judges unanimously decided that the second cancellation of the tennis player's visa complies with the law and, therefore, Djokovic will be deported from the country. The reasons given will be made public in the coming days and no appeal is possible. The Australian government indicated that Djokovic is a "public danger" to health due to his failure to provide the required information regarding COVID-19 testing and vaccination against the coronavirus. 

Novak Djokovic acknowledged in an official statement that he "will not be able to participate" in the Australian Open in Melbourne starting on Monday to defend last year's title after his visa cancellation and deportation and said on Sunday he was "deeply disappointed" by the cancellation of his visa in Australia after losing his legal challenge. 

The Serbian tennis player gave a statement to Immigration Department officials on Saturday and after meeting with his lawyers he was detained and sent to the Park Hotel where irregular immigrants are held. Subsequently, legal proceedings with the athlete's lawyers ensued, but in the end, the three Federal Court judges upheld the legal validity of the cancellation of his visa.

Novak Djokovic

Australia does not allow foreigners to enter Australia without being fully vaccinated, except in the case of certain medical exemptions and under quarantine. The Australian government had initially accepted the validity of the medical exemption issued by Tennis Australia to Djokovic in order to avoid a 14-day quarantine, but later claimed that Djokovic could "encourage anti-vaccine sentiment", which would lead to "increased civil unrest". He also criticised Djokovic's attitude after testing positive on 16 December. "Her behaviour may encourage or influence others to mimic her behaviour and fail to comply with appropriate health measures following a positive test, and thus lead to the transmission of disease and a serious risk to her health and the health of others," the Australian government said, as reported by AS.

After the controversy generated by Djokovic's presence in the Oceanic country without complying with the measures required for COVID-19, Prime Minister Scott Morrison expressed his decision to cancel the tennis player's visa despite having been granted a medical exemption in the first place. But the subsequent legal challenge by the tennis player's lawyers succeeded in overturning the visa cancellation and he was released and could play in the Melbourne Open. In any case, the Australian Immigration Minister still had the power to cancel the visa of foreigners and expel them if they did not comply with the established regulations for entry into the country. And so it has happened, Minister Alex Hawke used this option granted to him by law to cancel the Serbian tennis player's visa and expel him from the country. In the statement that would lead to the Serb's deportation, Hawke said: "I have today exercised my power under section 133C(3) of the Immigration Act to cancel Mr Novak Djokovic's visa on the grounds that it is in the public interest to do so on health and public order grounds. 

"The (Scott) Morrison Government is firmly committed to protecting Australia's borders, especially in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic," the Immigration Minister said in justifying the move after the Federal Court ordered the release of the tennis player on Monday.

Djokovic acknowledged in recent days that he had made "human errors" in his entry procedures, claiming, for example, that he had not visited another country in the 14 days prior to his arrival in Australia. Social media and witnesses confirmed with pictures of his presence in Marbella for training in the first days of 2022, proving that he had been to other countries within the 14 days prior to entering Australia. 

Novak Djokovic

Furthermore, the documents submitted by Serbia claiming that Novak had passed the COVID-19 were called into question by the German press, which revealed that they had been submitted on different dates and in the opposite order to that required.

Now, according to the law, Djokovic also faces a ban on returning to the country for three years, except in certain exceptions, which may include "compelling circumstances affecting Australia's interests", as reported by EFE news agency. 

Novak Djokovic's image is being badly affected and if he decides not to get vaccinated as 97% of the world's professional tennis players have done, he will also find it difficult to play in other major tournaments such as the US Open in the US or Wimbledon in the UK.