The world's No. 1 tennis player, Novak Djokovic, has lost his final court battle to stay in Australia and compete in the Australian Open. He has already departed the country after being deported.
Djokovic's legal problems originated from his lack of vaccination against Covid-19, a virus that is closely monitored under Australia's tight pandemic regulations. Djokovic's appeal of a government minister's decision to revoke his visa was unanimously dismissed by the court.
Djokovic said he was "very disappointed" by the decision, but that he respected it. After three Federal Court justices unanimously backed Immigration Minister Alex Hawke's decision to deny Djokovic's visa on public interest grounds on Friday, he issued his statement.
With his departure, the player with the most Australian Open victories (Djokovic has nine, including three in a row) would be unable to pursue a tenth title. Djokovic boarded an aircraft to Dubai around 11 p.m. local time.
“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,” Djokovic said in his statement. “I respect the Court’s ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country.”
The decision and Djokovic's departure bring a conclusion to a fight that began on Jan. 6 at the Melbourne airport. On arrival, his visa was revoked.