Novak Djokovic Out of 2022 Australian Open After Court Dismisses Deportation Appeal

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 16, 2022

FILE - Defending men's champion Serbia's Novak Djokovic practices on Margaret Court Arena ahead of the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Jan. 13, 2022. Djokovic’s effort to play in the Australian Open despite being unvaccinated for COVID-19 moved to a higher court as the No. 1-ranked tennis player appealed the second cancellation of his visa. A judge scheduled another hearing for Sunday, Jan. 16. (AP Photo/Mark Baker, File)
AP Photo/Mark Baker, File

Novak Djokovic has departed Australia after the country's Full Court upheld the decision to cancel his visa over his COVID-19 vaccination status.

The decision rules Djokovic out of playing in the 2022 Australian Open and could hold him out of the 2023 and 2024 events as well. Under Australia's Migration Act, a person who has his visa denied by the personal power of Immigration Minister Alex Hawke is typically banned for three years. However, no decision has been made on Djokovic's future status.

"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."

Sunday's ruling ends a weeks-long saga that has hung over the build to the Australian Open. Djokovic, who is not vaccinated for COVID-19, was initially granted a visa into Australia with a medical exemption because he had a prior infection in December. After his visa was initially canceled, an Australian judge ruled in Djokovic's favor and it appeared as if he would be eligible to play in the event.

Hawke then stepped in and canceled Djokovic's visa under personal power, saying the nine-time Australian Open winner is a "talisman of the anti-vaccination sentiment."

"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," Hawke said in a statement. "Strong border protection policies are also fundamental to safeguarding Australia's social cohesion, which continues to strengthen despite the pandemic."

Djokovic has won the last three Australian Opens, so the men's bracket is guaranteed a new winner once play gets underway Monday.