Novak Djokovic left Australia on Sunday after losing a court battle due to being unvaccinated against COVID-19 and lying about medical information in travel declaration form.
By Eden Llodrá
The Australian Open began Monday, January 17th of 2022, yet days prior the world’s No. 1- ranked men’s tennis player was in the midst of a visa court battle. Djokovic entered the country with a COVID-19 vaccine medical exemption, and at first, the Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly ruled that he could stay in the country as long as he quarantined for four days in the Melbourne hotel.
According to CBS, Djokovic remained under the Australian Border Force (ABF) while he waited on a final decision for his visa. Djokovic had been under the impression that because he contracted COVID-19 in December, he was still eligible for an exemption.
On Sunday, November 17th, 24 hours before Djokovic was lined up to play the world No. 78, Miomir Kecmanovic, his visa was canceled and he faced deportation. Alex Hawke, the immigration minister was the one to rule Djokovic out of the country on the grounds that it could lead to an anti-vaccine sentiment and “civil unrest,” while also setting a bad example for Australians.
Whether or not Djokovic’s deportation could lead to a three-year ban from the country is still up in the air, as it would mean him missing the next two Australian Opens.
In an interview with CNN, Djokovic said, “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,” adding “I respect the Court's ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country.”
On January 17th, the day Djokovic would have been playing his first match in the Australian Open, he arrived back in Belgrade, Serbia. His deportation shows the importance that countries are not only placing on the vaccine and COVID-19 safety protocols but the idea that no matter who you are, the rules stand.
With the next grand slam tournament being in May, the question lies, is Djokovic going to be allowed to compete in the French Open?
Melanie Moyer '22,