Novak Djokovic is leaving Australia and will not play the Tennis Open

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Melbourne (AFP) – Tennis star Novak Djokovic has left Australia on a flight from Melbourne to Dubai after losing the legal battle against the revocation of his visa. The Australian government considers the number one in the world a “health risk” for not being vaccinated against Covid-19.

The decision, made unanimously by all three judges on court, definitively dashed the 34-year-old’s hopes of breaking the record and winning his 21st Australian Open title, which begins on Monday.

The court’s decision, announced by its president James Olsop, was nearly impossible for the player to appeal, forcing him to leave Australia immediately with potentially long-term repercussions for his career.

Djokovic was allowed to leave the detention center where he was held on Saturday and watched the four-hour hearing online from his lawyers’ offices in Melbourne.

In his findings in court on Saturday, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke argued that Djokovic’s presence in the country was “likely a health risk” and that it fostered “anti-vaccine sentiment” and could deter Australians from receiving booster doses as the variable Omicron spread rapidly across the country. country.

The minister added that the hero’s presence in Australia could “lead to an increase in civil unrest”. While describing the risk of Djokovic infecting himself with Australians as ‘minimal’, the minister said his ‘disregard’ for Covid-19 health rules set a bad example.

A demonstrator holds a banner depicting Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic, who is about to be disqualified from the Australian Open for not having received a Covid-19 vaccination, during a demonstration against a health card in France that now requires a full vaccination against the virus. At the Trocadero Square, in Paris, France, on January 15, 2022. © AFP / Geoffroy van der Hasselt

A leader in the anti-vaccine movement

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Djokovic’s lawyers in court on Sunday described his client’s arrest and possible deportation as “illogical and irrational.”

Attorney Nick Wood argued that the government “doesn’t know what Mr Djokovic’s views are at this point,” saying his client has not publicly supported the anti-vaccine movement.

The government’s attorney, Stephen Lloyd, doubted that the hero’s failure to obtain a vaccination nearly two years after the pandemic began and his repeated disregard for health regulations, including not self-isolating when he learned he was infected, was sufficient evidence for his position.

Novak Djokovic was arrested upon arrival in Australia on 5 January, and initially placed under administrative detention.

The player, who contracted Covid-19 in December, was shown an exemption to enter the country without a vaccination, but it was not accepted by the authorities.

The Australian government suffered a humiliating setback on January 10, when a judge blocked Djokovic’s deportation, restored his visa and ordered his immediate release.

But the immigration minister hit back on Friday and revoked his visa for a second time under his discretion, citing “reasons of health and public order”.

On Sunday, after the hearing, Djokovic was returned to the Park Hotel, a now world-famous detention center for illegal aliens, which he is now expected to leave only to catch the plane back home.

The tennis player, in a statement published, Wednesday, admitted to incorrectly filling out his permit to enter Australia.

Serbia accuses Australia of mistreatment

The 86-time ATP champion, who was seen in Serbia and Spain in the two weeks prior to his arrival, when he contracted Covid-19 according to the medical exemption, claimed “human error”.

Australians have had some of the world’s toughest restrictions against Covid-19 in nearly two years. Moreover, with elections likely to be held in May, the political context has been highly charged.

In recent days, pressure has been mounting on Conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who has been accused by the Labor opposition of “incompetence”.

Djokovic’s condition is also closely watched in Serbia, where he is seen as a national hero.

On Friday, President Aleksandar Vucic accused Australia of “mistreating him”.

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