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'I Am Extremely Disappointed': Novak Djokovic Reacts to Deportation From Australia

Twenty-time major singles champion Novak Djokovic left Australia on Sunday after losing a legal challenge against a decision which revoked his visa from the country for the second time.

In a virtual hearing, three Federal Court judges unanimously dismissed Djokovic's application to overturn the immigration minister's decision to cancel his visa. He had hoped to remain in the country so that he could compete in the Australian Open, where he is the three-time defending champion. He was set to play his first-round match Monday. 

Djokovic said in a statement that he will now be "taking some time to rest and to recuperate before making any further comments beyond this.

"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," he continued.

"I respect the Court’s ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country. I am uncomfortable that the focus of the past weeks has been on me and I hope that we can all now focus on the game and tournament I love. I would like to wish the players, tournament officials, staff, volunteers and fans all the best for the tournament."

Djokovic initially traveled to Australia on Jan. 5, after Victoria state authorities had granted him a medical exemption to the country’s strict COVID-19 vaccination requirements. However, upon arrival, Djokovic, who has not been vaccinated, was forced to spend eight hours in airport detention in Melbourne, where he later learned his visa had been canceled.

In lieu of departing the country, he was transferred to an immigration detention hotel while he appealed the decision, having his lawyer argue that a positive test in December superseded the country’s vaccination requirement.

Chief Justice James Allsop said the ruling this weekend focused on whether the minister’s decision to revoke Djokovic's visa was "irrational or legally unreasonable. It is no part of the function of the court to decide upon the merits or wisdom of the decision."

Djokovic departed on an Emirates flight from Melbourne on Sunday, bound for Dubai.

Had he remained in the draw as the tournament's top seed, he would have faced unranked player Miomir Kecmanović on Monday. Because he withdrew from the tournament after Monday’s schedule was released, he has been replaced in the field by Italian Salvatore Caruso, who lost in the qualifying tournament but gained entrance into the main draw because of Djokovic's exit prior to the start of the competition.

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