Novak Djokovic deported: tennis star leaves Australia after losing visa case - latest updates

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Novak Djokovic has been deported from Australia after federal judges ruled the government was acting reasonably when it revoked his visa.

The latest twist of a protracted saga has shattered the tennis star's hopes of winning a 21st grand-slam title and potentially wrecked his chances of ever playing in Australia again.

In a statement, Djokovic said he was "extremely disappointed" at the decision, but respects the ruling and "will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country".

Djokovic flew out of Melbourne to Dubai at 10.50pm (11.50am GMT).

The world No 1 won an appeal last week to prevent deportation after officials cancelled his visa because he was not vaccinated against Covid. His visa was then revoked for a second time on Friday by the immigration minister who claimed Djokovic's presence in the country was a threat to public health.

Follow the latest updates below.

12:56 PM

Serbia Olympic Committee defends 'our winner'

The Serbian Olympic Committee has released a statement on Instagram, blasting a "great injustice" by the Australian government to deport "our winner".

The committee said they received the news "with great disappointment, as well as the deprivation of the opportunity to confirm the title of the greatest tennis player in the world of all time on the sports field."

Djokovic was hoping to win a record 21st Grand Slam title in Melbourne, surpassing Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who have both also won 20 Grand Slams.

" We are proud of Novak Djokovic and the way he coped with these extremely difficult and unpleasant circumstances. Dignified, champion… and that is why, despite this scandalous decision, we believe that Novak came out as the winner again," the committee added.

12:44 PM

Australia's Immigration Minister confirms Djokovic departure

Alex Hawke, the man who took the decision to rescind Novak Djokovic's visa, has confirmed the Serb has left Australian territory.

12:32 PM

Djokovic deportation 'scandalous', says Serbian PM

Serbia's Prime Minister Ana Brnabic has said she is "disappointed" by the Australian government's "scandalous" decision to deport Novak Djokovic.

"I think the court decision is scandalous...I find it unbelievable that we have two completely contradictory court decisions within the span of just a few days," she told reporters in Belgrade.

"I am disappointed... I think it demonstrated how the rule of law is functioning or better to say not functioning in some other countries. In any case, I can hardly wait to see Novak."

Novak Djokovic: tennis star leaves Australia after losing visa case - latest updates - ZORANA JEVTIC /REUTERS
Novak Djokovic: tennis star leaves Australia after losing visa case - latest updates - ZORANA JEVTIC /REUTERS

12:18 PM

Deportation the end of a 'political circus', says former Aussie PM

The deportation of Novak Djokovic marks the end of a "political circus", according to the former Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd.

Mr Rudd, a former leader of the Labor Party who held the highest office in the country on two separate occasions, tweeted that the situation was "avoidable" and laid the blame for the debacle squarely at the feet of Liberal PM Scott Morrison.

11:58 AM

Djokovic's flight departs from Melbourne

The tennis star departed from Melbourne Airport at 10.50pm (11.50am GMT) on Emirates flight EK409, bound for Dubai.

He is expected to land in 14 hours time.

Djokovic's flight departed at 11:50am GMT - FlightRadar24
Djokovic's flight departed at 11:50am GMT - FlightRadar24

11:37 AM

Andy Murray: "The situation has not been good all round for anyone"

Speaking with the BBC, he said:

There are obviously going to be a lot of questions about what has happened here and the situation he has been in.

Novak is someone I have known since we were 12 years old, he is someone who I respect and have competed against. I don't like he is in this situation and I don't like he has been in detention.

The situation has not been good all round for anyone. It feels everything here happened extremely last minute and that's why it became such a mess.

Hopefully, that won't be the case at other events so there is no other situation like this. I wouldn't want that for Novak, don't want that for tennis and hopefully it is done now.

Novak Djokovic talks with Andy Murray before their practice match ahead of the 2019 Australian Open - Michael Dodge/Getty Images
Novak Djokovic talks with Andy Murray before their practice match ahead of the 2019 Australian Open - Michael Dodge/Getty Images

11:27 AM

Liberal senator Alex Antic says it was “regrettable” his government decided to deport Djokovic

The senator for South Australia, who opposes vaccine mandates, says he wrote to Immigration Minister Alex Hawke asking him not to deport Novak Djokovic. Mr Antic told a Serbian television channel:

We have hundreds of thousands of cases in the community. He is no threat.

I think he should stay and play. I think the world wants to see Novak play in the Australian Open and win it for his tenth time.

I understand this has been done on the grounds of the public interest; I don’t know what that means.

11:16 AM

Djokovic has boarded plane bound for Dubai, Reuters news agency reports

He was seen boarding an Emirates flight from Melbourne, due to depart at 10.30pm (11.30am GMT).

It comes just hours after Australia's Federal Court upheld a government decision to cancel his visa on the grounds that his decision not to be vaccinated against COVID-19 posed a risk to the country.

11:04 AM

Djokovic spotted at Melbourne airport

Ahead of his flight which is due to leave in the next half an hour.

Novak Djokovic walks in Melbourne Airport before boarding a flight - REUTERS
Novak Djokovic walks in Melbourne Airport before boarding a flight - REUTERS
Novak Djokovic walks in Melbourne Airport before boarding a flight - REUTERS
Novak Djokovic walks in Melbourne Airport before boarding a flight - REUTERS
Novak Djokovic walks in Melbourne Airport before boarding a flight - REUTERS
Novak Djokovic walks in Melbourne Airport before boarding a flight - REUTERS

11:01 AM

Djokovic vs Australia: a story of trashed reputations

Serb's deportation brings to an end an unsavoury saga from which all concerned have had their reputations tarnished.

10:43 AM

Serbian president blasts Australia's 'witch hunt'

Aleksandar Vucic has accused Australian government lawyers of "lying" during the appeal hearing for Novak Djokovic, his country's most famous son.

"You saw in the pointless court proceeding how much the [government lawyers] lied. They are simply lying," the Serbian president told Novosti.

"They say there are fewer than 50 vaccinated people in Serbia and officially the number is 58 per cent...That was a pointless argument, but that’s possible in Orwellian performances."

Aleksandar Vucic has slammed Australia's treatment of Novak Djokovic - SHUTTERSTOCK
Aleksandar Vucic has slammed Australia's treatment of Novak Djokovic - SHUTTERSTOCK

In a BBC interview, Vucic also claimed Australia had "tortured and tormented" Djokovic and treated the world No 1 "like a mass murderer".

Vucic added: "He came to Australia with a medical exemption proposal and then you were mistreating him for 10 days. Why did you do it? Doing a witch hunt against him? This is something that no one can understand."

10:32 AM

Decision to send Djokovic packing leaves many uncomfortable questions

Oliver Brown writes that the Novak Djokovic saga has severely wounded the tennis superstar's reputation - but it has also damaged the standing of the once-tolerant country that has kicked him out.

This was a case that encompassed so much more than Novak Djokovic and the Australian Open.

It was essentially a litmus test on an entire nation’s pandemic response, on whether the “sacrifices” - to use Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s term - of 25 million people could be swerved by one very famous, very openly unvaccinated Serb.

And in the end, after 10 days of gaudy, compelling theatre, the will of the population prevailed.

10:14 AM

How the world reacted to Novak Djokovic's deportation

After the tennis star lost his visa appeal in an Australian court, here's what Djokovic, the government, tennis stars and the wider public had to say.

10:06 AM

Djokovic saga 'Orwellian and deeply troubling'

Our chief sports writer Oliver Brown has shared the response from the Australian Lawyers' Alliance to Novak Djokovic's deportation.

09:50 AM

World No 1's absence from Australian Open 'a loss for the game'

Tennis's governing body the ATP has released a statement describing the Novak Djokovic saga as a "deeply regrettable series of events" and calling his absence from the Australian Open "a loss for the game".

"Today's decision to uphold Novak Djokovic's Australian visa cancellation marks the end of a deeply regrettable series of events.

"Ultimately, decisions of legal authorities regarding matters of public health must be respected. More time is required to take stock of the facts and to take the learnings from this situation.

"Irrespective of how this point has been reached, Novak is one of our sport's greatest champions and his absence from the Australian Open is a loss for the game.

"We know how turbulent the recent days have been for Novak and how much he wanted to defend his title in Melbourne.

"We wish him well and look forward to seeing him back on court soon. ATP continues to strongly recommend vaccination to all players."

09:39 AM

'Djokovic case has awoken the world to Australia’s Zero Covid con'

So says Australia's former High Commissioner to the UK, Alexander Downer, writing in the Telegraph.

09:23 AM

New: Djokovic to leave Australia on Sunday

The world No 1 will depart on a flight from Melbourne at 10.30pm (11.30am GMT), according to The Age and Sydney Morning Herald newspapers.

He has been in the country for a total of 11 days - but spent five of those days in immigration detention.

09:15 AM

Statement from Tennis Australia

09:11 AM

Civil liberties group claims Australian visa system is 'unfit for purpose'

The Victorian Council for Civil Liberties has released a series of tweets in the aftermath of the ruling on what it described as Australia's "dysfunctional and chaotic visa cancellation regime".

The organisation said: “The minister has successfully used his ‘God powers’ to cancel Djokovic’s visa on the basis of how his perceived views might impact anti-vaxxers.

"The court only looked at whether the minister exercised his powers lawfully, and not at what the decision should have been.

“The Djokovic saga highlights the use of these extraordinary personal powers and Australia’s dysfunctional and chaotic visa cancellation regime. Liberty Victoria joins the call for an inquiry into this unfit-for-purpose regime.”

09:02 AM

Djokovic 'was ready to stay home before medical exemption'

So says Canadian tennis player Vasek Pospisil, who previously helped set up a new players' association with the Serbian.

08:46 AM

Australian PM says ruling 'will keep borders strong and Australians safe'

Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed a Federal Court ruling that upheld the cancellation of Novak Djokovic's visa, saying the decision would help "keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe".

A medical exemption that allowed Djokovic to enter the country without being vaccinated had sparked fury in Australia, becoming a political issue for Morrison, who has to call a federal election before May.

"It's now time to get on with the Australian Open and get back to enjoying tennis over the summer," Morrison said in a statement.

08:38 AM

If you're just joining us - here what you missed overnight

  • Three federal court judges heard Novak Djokovic's appeal over Australian immigration minister's decision to revoke his visa on health grounds.

  • Djokovic's lawyers argued the minister had provided no evidence the Serbian's presence in the country may "foster anti-vaccination sentiment" when scrapping his visa.

  • In response, the government highlighted Djokovic's anti-vaccination stance and his "history of ignoring Covid safety measures."

  • The world No 1 spent Sunday in his lawyers' offices, under the guard of two immigration officials, while the challenge was heard via video link.

  • After just over three hours of deliberations, the judges unanimously decided to uphold the immigration minister's right to cancel Djokovic's visa.

  • Djokovic had the option of trying to take the legal fight further but said although he was "extremely disappointed" by the decision he would cooperate with the deportation.

08:24 AM

Triumph and disaster in Djokovic's last seven grand slams

08:13 AM

Reaction from Australian immigration minister

Alex Hawke says he welcomes the unanimous ruling of the judges to uphold his decision "to cancel Mr Djokovic's visa in the public interest".

He adds: "Australia's strong border protection policies have kept us safe during the pandemic, resulting in one of the lowest death rates, strongest economic recoveries, and highest vaccination rates in the world.

"Strong border protection policies are also fundamental to safeguarding Australia's social cohesion which continues to strengthen despite the pandemic."

07:58 AM

'Australian Open draw lopsided after world No 1's exit'

So says our tennis correspondent Simon Briggs, who is in Melbourne for the tournament.

Novak Djokovic’s last-minute exit leaves the Australian Open’s men’s draw looking thoroughly unbalanced.

Tournament organisers released Monday’s order of play at 4.10pm, and as soon as that happened, the rules around last-minute replacements meant that the seeds could no longer be reshuffled.

Instead, Djokovic will be replaced in the top line of the draw by “lucky loser” Salvatore Caruso who has lost in the final round of the qualifying tournament.

This is excellent news for Matteo Berrettini, the world No 7, who now becomes the highest seed in the top quarter. And it could also favour British No 1 Cameron Norrie, the only Briton in action on Monday.

07:51 AM

When will Djokovic be deported?

Deportation usually occurs as soon as possible after an order unless prevented by court action. So far, the Australian government has not said when Djokovic will leave.

But the judges' decision likely means that Djokovic, who is not vaccinated against Covid-19, will remain in detention in Melbourne until he is deported.

A deportation order also usually includes a three-year ban on returning to Australia.

07:40 AM

Statement from Novak Djokovic

“I would like to make a brief statement to address the outcomes of today’s court hearing.

“I will now be taking some time to rest and to recuperate, before making any further comments beyond this.

“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.

“I respect the court’s ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country.

“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.

“I would like to wish the players, tournament officials, staff, volunteers and fans all the best for the tournament.

“Finally, I would like to thank my family, friends, team, supporters, fans and my fellow Serbians for your continued support. You have all been a great source of strength to me.”

07:34 AM

Confirmed: Djokovic will not appeal decision

There was the possibility of a further legal challenge but Djokovic's team have confirmed they are not seeking that option.

The tennis star will also have to pay Immigration Minister Alex Hawke's costs.

The judges' decision means Djokovic faces being banned from Australia for three years.

07:29 AM

Salvatore Caruso will take Djokovic's place in Melbourne

The Italian world No 150 replaces the world No 1 at the Australian Open, according to the ATP.

Salvatore Caruso has been added to the Australian Open draw at the last minute - ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES
Salvatore Caruso has been added to the Australian Open draw at the last minute - ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES

07:25 AM

What happens next?

Given the last-ditch nature of this hearing, it doesn't appear as if there is time for any potential appeal to the High Court to be heard in time for Novak Djokovic to play at the Australian Open.

A reminder that the world No 1 was drawn to face fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic on Monday evening (8.15am GMT) in Melbourne.

07:16 AM

'A tricky but crucial distinction'

07:14 AM

Judges' decision has public backing

An opinion poll published by The Age newspaper on Sunday showed almost three-quarters of Australians believed Djokovic should be sent home without playing in the Australian Open.

Just 14 per cent of the 1,607 people polled said he should have been allowed to stay.

07:12 AM

Decision was unanimous

The verdict from Chief Justice James Allsop came following a unanimous decision from the three judges hearing the case at the Federal Court of Australia on Sunday.

The ruling means nine-time Australian Open champion Djokovic will be unable to defend his title at the tournament, which starts on Monday.

06:55 AM

Breaking news: Novak Djokovic loses case

Novak Djokovic has lost his application to prevent his deportation in a stunning defeat in an Australian court.

The court has now adjourned and will set out the reasons for its decision later.

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