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Novak Djokovic’s deportation saga is ‘deeply regrettable’ says the ATP

Novak Djokovic’s deportation saga is ‘deeply regrettable’ says the ATP, as it urges ALL players to get vaccinated… but the Tour admits world No 1’s absence from Australian Open is a ‘loss to our game’


The ATP said the saga surrounding Novak Djokovic’s Australian visa cancellation was was ‘deeply regrettable’ and that his absence from the Australian Open was ‘a loss for our game.’

The world No1 is awaiting deportation from Australia, after his bid to restore his visa was dismissed by the country’s federal court early on Sunday.

Earlier this week, Alex Hawke, Australia’s immigration minister, had cancelled Djokovic’s visa arguing the Serbian was ‘a talisman of anti-vaccination sentiment’ and his presence in Australia could spark ‘civil unrest’.  

Novak Djokovic will not compete at the Australian Open after his visa was cancelled

Djokovic is not vaccinated and lawyers for the government argued that the Serb’s repeated ignorance of Covid safety measures – including failing to isolate while Covid positive – was evidence enough of his views.

‘He’s chosen not to go into evidence in this proceeding. He could set the record straight if it needed correcting. He has not – that has important consequences,’ the government said in a written submission.  

In a last ditch-attempt to be allowed to remain in the country, Djokovic’s legal team appealed to the federal court.

However, on Sunday Chief Justice James Allsop announced the court unanimously dismissed Djokovic’s application. 

Djokovic arrived in Melbourne on January 5 after being granted a visa on November 18

Djokovic arrived in Melbourne on January 5 after being granted a visa on November 18

The world No1 said he respected the court's decision to deport him from Australia

 The world No1 said he respected the court’s decision to deport him from Australia

‘Today’s decision to uphold Novak Djokovic’s Australian visa cancellation marks the end of a deeply regrettable series of events,’ the ATP said in a statement. 

It added: ‘Irrespective of how this point has been reached, Novak is one of our sport’s greatest champions and his absence from the Australian Open is a loss for the game.’ 

The ATP said it also ‘strongly recommend vaccination to all players.’

Speaking after the decision, Djokovic said: ‘I would like to make a brief statement to address the outcomes of today’s Court hearing. I will now be taking some time to rest and recuperate, before making any further comments beyond this.

Djokovic was chasing a record 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open

Djokovic was chasing a record 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open

The Serb triumphed at Melbourne Park for the ninth time in his career last year

The Serb triumphed at Melbourne Park for the ninth time in his career last year

‘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.

‘I respect the Court’s ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country.’

The federal court’s ruling marks the end of a chaotic 12-day saga which saw Djokovic have his visa cancelled by Australian Border Force (ABF), restored by a federal circuit court and ultimately cancelled again by Hawke.

Djokovic arrived in Melbourne on January 5, believing a visa granted on November 18 and a medical exemption approved by Tennis Australia and a Victorian government independent panel would allow him to enter the country.

Djokovic will not be able to compete for a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title this month

However, his visa was cancelled upon arrival at Melbourne airport by ABF officials and he was taken to a detention hotel. 

On Monday, his visa was restored after a federal circuit court judge ruled the ABF could not renege on his promise, only for Hawke to cancel it again four days later.

It means the 34-year-old will not be able to defend his Australian Open title and his quest for a record 21st Grand Slam crown will have to wait until the French Open at least.

Crucially, he also faces a three-year ban from entering Australia, which dramatically shortens the odds of him winning at Melbourne Park again.  

ATP STATEMENT ON NOVAK DJOKOVIC 

Today’s decision to uphold Novak Djokovic’s Australian visa cancellation marks the end of a deeply regrettable series of events. 

Ultimately, decisions of legal authorities regarding matters of public health must be respected. More time is required to take stock of the facts and to take the learnings from this situation.

Irrespective of how this point has been reached, Novak is one of our sport’s greatest champions and his absence from the Australian Open is a loss for the game. 

We know how turbulent the recent days have been for Novak and how much he wanted to defend his title in Melbourne. We wish him well and look forward to seeing him back on court soon.

ATP continues to strongly recommend vaccination to all players.

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