NOVAK DJOKOVIC landed in Dubai after being kicked out of Australia in a visa row over his vaccination status.
Novak Djokovic poses with a fan at Dubai airportCredit: Reuters
The star was on his way to Belgrade after being kicked out of AustraliaCredit: Reuters
Djokovic leaves Melbourne airport as he is deported from AustraliaCredit: Reuters
The tennis’ world No 1 finally left after he had his visa cancelled by the Australian Government and then lost his court appeal in Melbourne yesterday.
Having fallen foul of the country’s strict Migration Act, Djokovic will not be allowed back for three years “except in certain circumstances”.
The star yesterday flew out from Australia “to rest and to recuperate” with his family in his native Serbia via Dubai.
He was seen wearing a mask and taking selfies with fans at the arrival gate in Dubai as he waited for his entourage to follow him off the plane.
Djokovic was later escorted by airline staff on a buggy to check in alone for the six-hour flight to Belgrade.
In a statement before he left, Djokovic said: “I’m extremely disappointed with the court ruling to dismiss my application for judicial review of the minister’s decision to cancel my visa.
“I respect the court’s ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country.
“I’m uncomfortable that the focus of the past weeks has been on me. I hope that we can all now focus on the game and tournament I love.”
Djokovic has overwhelming support in his native Serbia where his closest family lives.
The country’s president accused the Australian government of harassing Djokovic.
“You saw in the pointless court proceeding how much the prosecution lied,” Aleksander Vucic said.
Australian athletes would be treated better when they arrived in Serbia for an athletics event in March and “and we won’t mistreat them due to elections”.
The nine-time Aussie Open champ has been ordered to pay costs and might never play in the tournament again.
The visa cancellation was unanimously upheld by a federal court’s three-judge panel 12 days after he arrived in the country.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed the ruling, saying the decision will help “keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe”.
Aussie Open officials will beef up security to avoid any potential anti-vax protests at Melbourne Park.
The saga over Djokovic’s jab status began when his visa was revoked when he first landed in Aus.
The 20-time Grand Slam champ was initially given his marching orders following a six-hour stand-off at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport.
He had initially been granted a vaccine exemption – his lawyers said, because he contracted Covid-19 in December – to compete before his visa was dramatically cancelled.
Djokovic was rushed to an immigration hotel, despite pleading to be moved to more elaborate digs with a tennis court or to have his private chef provide vegan meals – requests which were denied.
A judge then ordered his passport to be handed back – saying he was “agitated” about the case and asking: “What more could this man have done?”
However, in a twist, Djokovic was reportedly arrested as the government revoked his visa again.
His supporters were pepper-sprayed by cops in the street after Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used his powers on “health and good order” grounds.
But their pleas for him to remain in Australia were overruled.
Djokovic met with immigration officials and Border Force for a secret showdown at an undisclosed location on Saturday before government lawyers later argued he poses an “overwhelming risk” to the public.
They claim this was demonstrated by his decision to attend work events while infected with Covid.
Chief Justice James Allsop, Justice Anthony Besanko and Justice David O’Callaghan unanimously decided Djokovic did not have grounds to dispute Hawke’s deportation order.
Justice Allsop earlier said he accepted Djokovic could be seen as “an iconic sports star that is setting an example that is not ideal to be followed”.
“If Mr Djokovic won the Open, as he has in the past, there is an example embedded in the minister’s reasoning that this is an example for young and not so young fans of tennis,” he said.
Novak Djokovic competed in the 2021 Australian Open but lost in the finalCredit: Alamy
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