Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AFP) – Novak Djokovic was heading to Serbia on Monday after being deported from Australia due to a required COVID-19 vaccination, ending the men’s top-ranked tennis player’s hopes of defending his Australian Open title .
An Emirates plane carrying him from Australia landed in Dubai in the early hours of Monday morning, and Djokovic was later seen on a plane that was due to land in the Serbian capital Belgrade at 12:10 CET. His lawyers argued in an Australian court on Sunday that he should be allowed to remain in the country and compete in the tournament under a medical exemption due to contracting the coronavirus last month.
Djokovic He won nine Australian Open titles, including three in a row, and a total of 20 Grand Slam singles titles, and tied with rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most in men’s tennis history. Federer is not playing while recovering from injury, and Nadal is the only former Australian champion in the tournament. which started on Monday.
Djokovic enjoys overwhelming support in his native Serbia Where his closest family lives. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has accused the Australian government of “harassing” the top-ranked tennis star and urged him to return to where he is welcomed.
Djokovic had tested positive for coronavirus in Belgrade on December 16, which he used as an excuse to enter Australia, but his visa was initially revoked. On 6 January by a border official who decided he did not qualify for a medical exemption from Australia’s rules for unvaccinated visitors.
He won an appeal to remain in the tournament, but the Australian immigration minister later revoked his visa. Three federal court judges decided unanimously Sunday to confirm the right of the immigration minister to cancel Djokovic’s visa.
Vaccination amid the pandemic is a requirement for anyone at the Australian Open, whether players, their coaches or anyone at the tournament site. Over 95% of the top 100 men and women in their rounds rating were vaccinated. At least two men – American Tennys Sandgren and France’s Pierre-Huge Herbert – skipped the first major tournament of the year due to vaccine requirements.
Djokovic’s bid to obtain medical exemption for not being vaccinated has sparked outrage In Australia, strict lockdowns in cities and restrictions on international travel have been in place to try to control the spread of the coronavirus since the pandemic began.
Djokovic tested positive in Belgrade on December 16, but received the result in late December 17, he said, and canceled all his commitments except for a long interview with L’Equipe the next day. He later described this as an “error” in judgment.
Asked if Djokovic would face any penalties for violating his isolation while he was injured upon his return to Serbia, Serbian officials said he would not do so because the country is not in a state of emergency.
Djokovic has almost symbolic status in Serbia, with its president Aleksandar Vucic saying the court hearing in Australia was “a farce with a lot of lies”.
“They think they insulted Djokovic with this 10-day harassment, and they have already humiliated themselves. If you say that a person who has not been vaccinated has no right to enter, Novak will not come or he will be vaccinated,” Vucic told reporters.
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