New Delhi | Jagran Sports Desk: Novak Djokovic's hopes of playing at the Australian Open were dashed Sunday after a court dismissed the top-ranked tennis star's appeal against a deportation order. Three Federal Court judges upheld a decision made on Friday by the immigration minister to cancel the 34-year-old Serb's visa on public interest grounds. Djokovic will now be required to leave Australia.

The decision was unanimous, said Chief Justice Allsop. Other judges who were hearing Djokovic's appeal were Anthony Besanko and David O'Callaghan of the Federal Court of Australia. A deportation order usually also includes a three-year ban on returning to Australia. The tennis player was also ordered to pay the legal costs to the government.

The minister cancelled 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.”

Following the order, Djokovic said that he was "extremely disappointed" but would comply and leave the country. "I respect the Court's ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country," the 34-year-old world number one said in a statement on the eve of the Australian Open.

Djokovic's visa was initially cancelled on Jan. 6 at Melbourne's airport hours after he arrived to compete in the first Grand Slam of 2022. A border official cancelled his visa after deciding Djokovic didn't qualify for a medical exemption from Australia's rules for unvaccinated visitors.

Then on Monday, judge Anthony Kelly of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia quashed the cancellation of Djokovic's visa after tennis player spent five days detained in an immigration hotel. Later, his visa was again cancelled on Friday by Hawke, the Australian Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services, and Multicultural Affairs.

"Today I exercised my power under section 133C(3) of the Migration Act to cancel the visa held by Novak Djokovic on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so," minister in an official statement said.

"This decision followed orders by the Federal Circuit and Family Court on January 10, 2022, quashing a prior cancellation decision on procedural fairness grounds. In making this decision, I carefully considered information provided to me by the Department of Home Affairs, the Australian Border Force and Djokovic."

"The Morrison Government is firmly committed to protecting Australia's borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. I thank the officers of the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Border Force who work every day to serve Australia's interests in increasingly challenging operational environments," the statement added.

Notably, world number one men's singles tennis player Djokovic on Wednesday admitted that he conducted an in-person media interview and photoshoot in December despite knowing the fact that he was COVID-19 positive. Djokovic has won nine of his 20 Grand Slam trophies at the Australian Open — including three in a row — and was scheduled to play in the main stadium at night on Day 1 of the tournament.

 

(With Agencies Inputs)

Posted By: Talibuddin Khan