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Tennis star Novak Djokovic’s drawn-out week-long match against the Australian government ended on Sunday after a federal court unanimously voted to deport him due to his vaccine skepticism that allegedly could cause a public health risk.
Djokovic released a statement indicating he was “extremely disappointed” with the panel’s ruling, but he intends to cooperate with the deportation proceedings, according to a report by the Australian publication The Age.
“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,” the No. 1 ranked men’s tennis player who has won the Australian Open a record nine times said in a statement.
The nine-time #AusOpen champ Novak Djokovic won’t be able to play for a men’s record 21st major after a Federal Court unanimously dismissed his appeal. pic.twitter.com/s7UTOhzUXw
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) January 16, 2022
“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 Serbian tennis player said. “I am uncomfortable that the focus of the past weeks has been on me and I hope that we can all now focus on the game and tournament I love.”
The three-judge panel’s ruling marked the second time Djokovic’s visa was overturned this past week after initially being granted a visa with a medical exemption allowing him to enter the country unvaccinated. The first time the government canceled his visa they claimed a prior infection of the COVID-19 virus was not sufficient grounds to receive an exemption.
Court documents revealed that the Australian Minister for Immigration Alex Hawke acknowledged that although he was a “negligible risk to those around him,” due to his prior COVID-19 infection, he still sought to overturn his visa because he was “perceived by some as a talisman of a community of anti-vaccination sentiment.”
“I consider that Mr Djokovic’s ongoing presence in Australia may lead to an increase in anti-vaccination sentiment generated in the Australian community, potentially leading to an increase in civil unrest of the kind previously experienced in Australia with rallies and protests which may themselves be a source of community transmission,” Hawke wrote in court filings according to a report by The Guardian.
“Having regard to … Mr Djokovic’s conduct after receiving a positive Covid-19 result, his publicly stated views, as well as his unvaccinated status, I consider that his ongoing presence in Australia may encourage other people to disregard or act inconsistently with public health advice and policies in Australia,” the immigration official asserted.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said he was disappointed in Australia’s ‘scandalous’ decision to deport tennis world No. 1 Novak Djokovic over his decision not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 https://t.co/MK9hy8FYpe pic.twitter.com/N6BnPc9NOc
— Reuters (@Reuters) January 16, 2022
The government’s primary source of Djokovic’s offending statements came from an article from the BBC that summarized his position on the jab – although many were made before vaccines were even available – including that he was “no expert” but would have an “open mind” although he asserted his desire to maintain bodily autonomy and have “an option to choose what’s best for my body.”
The Land Down Under has been a hotbed for Orwellian restrictions on movements in order to attempt to contain the pandemic so it’s no surprise that Prime Minister Scott Morrison “welcome[d] the decision to keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe.”
PM Scott Morrison statement on Novak Djokovic: “Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected” #auspol pic.twitter.com/LRYArRywuR
— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) January 16, 2022
“I thank the court for their prompt attention to these issues and the patience of all involved as we have worked to resolve this issue. It’s now time to get on with the Australian Open and get back to enjoying tennis over the summer,” he said.
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