Novak Djokovic Has Left Australia, Judge Rules

Update: January 16, 2022 at 10:50 a.m. ET

Novak Djokovic has left Australia.

The tennis star’s visa, which is required to play in the Australian Open, has been canceled after a court ruling today, according to ESPN. Djokovic’s visa rejection is due to him remaining unvaccinated against COVID-19, a ruling made on public interest grounds. On Sunday, the record Australia Open winner departed the city of Melbourne on a plain en route to Dubai.

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

What We Originally Reported

Novak Djokovic is staying in Australia after all. On Monday, a judge in Melbourne ruled that the tennis star should be released from detention after his visa was canceled last week upon arrival. Today, the government’s cancellation of his visa was overruled.

“I’m pleased and grateful that the Judge overturned my visa cancellation. Despite all that has happened, I want to stay and try to compete @AustralianOpen. I remain focused on that. I flew here to play at one of the most important events we have in front of the amazing fans,” Djokovic posted on Twitter Monday morning.

Novak Djokovic’s placement in the Australian Open was in limbo last week as the tennis star faced possible removal from COVID-19 concerns. Last Tuesday, Djokovic shared on social media that he had been granted an “exemption permission” from the coronavirus vaccine to play in the Australian Open, which requires players to be fully vaccinated. The announcement sparked major backlash. In response, Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison has stated that Djokovic must prove proof of why he cannot be vaccinated — or else, “he’ll be on the next plane home.”

Once Djokovic’s plane arrived in Melbourne on the next day the French Open winner couldn’t move through passport control due to his team requesting a visa that doesn’t apply for vaccine exemptions. Tennis Australia has stated that due to the anonymous nature of Djokovic’s application for an exemption, he was not given special treatment while being considered. Victoria Sports Minister Jaala Pulford confirmed via Twitter that the government would indeed not support Djokovic’s visa application.

The Federal Government has asked if we will support Novak Djokovic’s visa application to enter Australia. We will not be providing Novak Djokovic with individual visa application support to participate in the 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam,” she wrote in the Tweet. “We’ve always been clear on two points: visa approvals are a matter for the Federal Government, and medical exemptions are a matter for doctors.”

Judge Anthony Kelly overturned decision and also ordered the government to pay costs and for the No. 1 men’s tennis player to be released from detention, where he’s been since Thursday, with his passport and personal effects returned to him.

Much of the backlash towards Djokovic has stemmed from him keeping his reasons for remaining unvaccinated unknown. Though the player tested positive for coronavirus in June 2020, two months before the U.S. Open, he recovered in time to compete. Since his exemption this year wasn’t received by Tennis Australia, its CEO Craig Tiley has stated the only person who can share Djokovic’s reasoning for remaining unvaccinated is the player himself.

“We’ve been through a very tough period over the past two years and we would appreciate some answers to that,” Tiley said.

Discover Djokovic’s shoe showdown with Rafael Nadal in the gallery.

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