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Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic was forced to leave Australia on Sunday night around 11:00 p.m. local time after a court ruling upheld the immigration minister's decision to cancel Djokovic's visa, The Washington Post reported.
Djokovic traveled to Australia on Jan. 5 but was denied entry because he has not been vaccinated against COVID-19. After Djokovic, who is the No. 1 ranked men's tennis player in the world, won an initial appeal Monday, Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke invoked his ministerial discretion to cancel Djokovic's visa. According to NPR and the Post, Hawke said the unvaccinated athlete's presence in the country would stoke "anti-vaccination sentiment" and lead to "civil unrest."
For many in Australia and around the world frustrated with travel restrictions and vaccine mandates, Djokovic's case became a rallying point. Scottish tennis player Andy Murray and Brexit mastermind Nigel Farage traded barbs about it on Twitter on Jan. 9 and 10.
Even Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić voiced his support for Djokovic, writing on social media that "the whole of Serbia is with him."
Djokovic, who was scheduled to play his first match of the Australian Open on Monday, said he was "extremely disappointed." The Post explains that Djokovic had the option to appeal his case to Australia's High Court, but "the timing of Sunday's decision — roughly 24 hours before Djokovic was due to take to the tennis court — made another challenge unfeasible."