Novak Djokovic expelled from Australia, sparking border fury and boasting
Novak Djokovic was scheduled to play on center court at the Australian Open on Monday.
Instead, the “extremely disappointed” men’s champion was on a plane from Australia and was in danger of losing his status as the world’s No.1 men’s player.
Djokovic, who must pay federal government court costs, was spotted being escorted by police to Melbourne airport ahead of his 10.30pm flight to Dubai on Sunday.
“I will cooperate with the relevant authorities regarding my departure from the country,” he said in a statement.
“I want to thank my family, my friends, my team, my supporters, my fans and my fellow Serbs for your continued support. You have all been a great source of strength.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison argued that revoking Djokovic’s visa was in the public interest.
“Strong borders are fundamental to the Australian way of life, as is the rule of law,” Mr Morrison said in a statement on Sunday evening.
“Our government has always understood this and has been prepared to take the decisions and actions necessary to protect the integrity of our borders.”
But Labor immigration spokeswoman Kristina Keneally said Djokovic should not have obtained a visa to travel to Australia in the first place.
“This mess is not a failure of our laws. It is a failure of skill and leadership by the Morrison government,” she said.
“Australians have made all the hard sacrifices during the lockdowns, only to have Mr Morrison and his government serve up an embarrassing and grotesque series of unforced errors after mindlessly granting Mr Djokovic a visa 60 days ago.”
The Australian Lawyers Alliance has expressed concern over the government’s legal argument, which it says sets a dangerous precedent.
“Using the criterion of a possible risk to public order as a reason to deny someone entry to the country is troubling in a society supposedly committed to freedom of expression and freedom of thought,” said said SC spokesman Greg Barns.
“The Federal Government’s attitude could see other high profile visitors to Australia being refused entry in a bid to suppress other views.”
Nine-time champion Djokovic was deported after his last-minute challenge to a visa cancellation ruling failed on Sunday, with a three-judge Federal Court panel ruling unanimously against him.
The decision came after Immigration Minister Alex Hawke canceled Djokovic’s visa for the second time on Friday, citing a public health risk and the possibility that the unvaccinated star’s presence in Australia could stir up sentiment. anti-vaccination.
Djokovic was due to start his defense against fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic at the Rod Laver Arena on Monday night.
But after five nights in a detention hotel, he wasted no time leaving and boarding an Emirates flight on Sunday evening.
Footage from the airport showed the Serb waiting in the airport lounge, escorted by his entourage.
It’s unclear whether Djokovic will return to Serbia or to his Monte Carlo, Monaco property.
There was an emotional outpouring of anger and support in Serbia, where the country’s President Aleksandar Vukic urged Djokovic to return home and Prime Minister Ana Brnabic called his treatment “outrageous”.
“We had hoped that justice would prevail. This ‘public interest’ would not serve as a pretext for a decision that would ultimately be made,” Djokovic’s family said, adding that politics won out over sport.
The blame game is set to heat up now that his Open bid is officially over, with Djokovic also facing the prospect of losing his precious world No. 1 ranking to Daniil Medvedev or Alexander Zverev if the one of them appends his title.
Tennis Australia will also be firmly in the crosshairs, accused of providing misleading information about vaccinations to players.
TA boss Craig Tiley has largely maintained his silence, except to blame “contradictory and conflicting” information for the saga.
Three-time major winner Andy Murray blasted Djokovic’s treatment.
“I don’t like that he’s in this situation and I don’t like that he’s been in detention,” Murray told the BBC.
“The situation hasn’t been good for anyone… It feels like everything here happened at the last minute and that’s why it became like this.”
Djokovic’s attempt to clear Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer with a 21st Grand Slam title is now on ice.
And if he chooses to remain unvaccinated, it remains to be seen whether he will be cleared to play in the other three Grand Slams – Wimbledon, the French Open and the US Open.
But the main show continues, with Nadal noting: “It’s very clear that Novak Djokovic is one of the best players in history, without a doubt – but there isn’t a single player in history who is more important than an event.”