Friday, May 20, 2022

As data pours around the word, it’s clear that Omicron is ending the pandemic.

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – Novak Djokovic left Australia on Sunday evening after losing his final bid to avoid relegation and play at the Australian Open despite being unreported for COVID-19. Earlier, a court had unanimously rejected a challenge to cancel the visa of the number one ranked tennis player.

Djokovic, 34, from Serbia said he was “extremely disappointed” by the decision, but respected it.

A masked Djokovic was photographed in a Melbourne airport lounge with two government officials in black. He left for Dubai on an Emirates flight, from the same UAE city he took off for Australia.

He has won a record nine Australian Open titles, including three in a row, but won’t even get a chance to try this time.

“I respect the court’s decision and will cooperate with the relevant authorities regarding my departure from the country,” he said in a statement.

Djokovic said he was “uncomfortable” that his attention had been on him since his visa on arrival at Maybourne’s airport was canceled on January 6.

“I hope we can all now focus on the sport and tournament that I love,” he said.

Tennis Australia, the national federation that governs the tournament, said it respected the federal court’s decision. “We look forward to a competitive and exciting Australian Open 2022 and wish all players the best,” the statement said.

The deportation order usually also includes a three-year ban on return to Australia.

In Serbia, President Aleksandar Vucic said the hearing was “a farce with a lot of lies.”

“They think they humiliated Djokovic by this 10 days of harassment, and they really humiliated themselves. If you said that someone who hasn’t been vaccinated has no right to enter, Novak wouldn’t come.” Or will be vaccinated, ”Vusic told reporters.

“We can’t wait to see him in Serbia, to return to his country, where he is always welcome,” he said after speaking with Djokovic.

He did not say whether Djokovic has said that he will go to Serbia first after exile.

Chief Justice James Allsop said the decision depended on whether the minister’s decision was “irrational or legally unreasonable”.

Hawke welcomed the decision. His office did not immediately provide details of how and when Djokovic would leave.

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“Australia’s strong border security policies have kept us safe during the pandemic, resulting in the lowest death rates, the strongest economic recovery and the highest vaccination rates in the world,” Hawke said.

“Strong border security policies are also fundamental to safeguarding Australia’s social cohesion which continues to strengthen despite the pandemic,” he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed what he described as “the decision to keep our borders strong and keep the Australians safe”.

But opposition spokeswoman Christina Keneally at the Department of Home Affairs said Djokovic was being deported for what he said and what he publicly did abroad before the government granted him a visa in November.

“This disturbance is not a failure of our laws. This is a failure of Morrison’s ability and leadership,” Kenley tweeted.

The response to the pandemic has become politically charged, with Morrison’s conservative coalition seeking a fourth three-year term in elections due by May.

Infection rates in most Australians have soared since December when Morrison’s government eased some of the democratic world’s toughest restrictions on international travel.

As data pours around the word, it's clear that Omicron is ending the pandemic.

“I will now take some time to rest and recover before commenting further,” he said.

Djokovic’s hope that the court process would keep his aspirations for a 21st Grand Slam title alive was exceptionally quick by Australian standards.

Within three hours of Hawke’s announcement Friday afternoon that Djokovic’s visa had been revoked, his lawyers went before a Federal Circuit and Family Court judge to challenge the decision. The matter was taken up in federal court on Saturday and submissions were filed by both the parties on the same day.

The three judges heard the matter for over five hours on Sunday and delivered the verdict after two hours.

There was evidence that Djokovic was to be deported based on Hawke’s assessment that he was considered “a talisman of the community’s anti-vaccination sentiment”.

Hawke’s lawyer, Stephen Lloyd, took aim at Djokovic’s anti-vaccination stance and his “history of ignoring COVID safeguards”.

Lloyd cited the example of Djokovic giving an interview to a French newspaper journalist last month when he was infected with COVID-19 and taking off his mask during a photo shoot. Djokovic has admitted the interview was an error of judgment.

The minister revoked the visa on the grounds that Djokovic’s presence in Australia could be a risk to the health and “good order” of the Australian public and “be prejudicial to vaccination efforts by others in Australia.”

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Djokovic’s visa was initially revoked on 6 January by a border official, who decided he did not qualify for a medical exemption from Australia’s rules for unvaccinated visitors. He was exempted from the tournament’s vaccine rules because he had been infected with the virus within the past six months.

Vasek Pospisil, a Canadian who won the 2014 Wimbledon men’s doubles title and has worked with Djokovic to form a federation to represent the players, tweeted: “There was a political agenda going on with the (Australian) elections that couldn’t be more clear. It’s not his fault. He didn’t forcibly enter the country or ‘make his own rules’; he stayed home. was ready for.”

Pospisil wrote that Djokovic would not have tried to move to Australia at all and “would have been at home with his family” if he had not received medical exemption.

Djokovic has won nine Australian Open titles, including three in a row, and a total of 20 Grand Slam singles trophies, tied with most rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the history of men’s tennis.

Djokovic’s dominance of late has been particularly impressive, winning four of the last seven major tournaments and runner-up in two others.

The only time he reached at least the final in that period was the 2020 US Open, where he was disqualified in the fourth round for hitting a ball that inadvertently hit a line judge in the neck after a game.

Because Djokovic withdrew from the tournament after Monday’s schedule was released, he is referred to as the “lucky loser” on the field – a player who loses in a qualifying tournament but has previously been ruled out of the mainland by another player. The draw is reached, the competition has started.

That player is Italian Salvatore Caruso, who is ranked 150th in the world.


Associated Press writers John Pye in Melbourne, Australia, Howard Fendrich in Washington DC and Dusan Stojanovic in Belgrade, Serbia contributed to this report.


More AP Tennis: and

Rod McGuirk, Associated Press

As data pours around the word, it's clear that Omicron is ending the pandemic.

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