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Update: Novak Djokovic to be deported after losing Australia visa appeal

Novak Djokovic is set to be deported from Australia after losing a last-ditch court bid to stay in the country.

Judges rejected the tennis star’s appeal after the government cancelled the unvaccinated player’s visa on public health grounds.

The decision has ended his hopes of defending his Australian Open title and winning a record 21st Grand Slam.

Djokovic said he was “extremely disappointed” but respected the ruling, made on the eve of his first match.

“I will co-operate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country,” he said in a statement.

His supporters fell silent outside the courtroom as the decision was announced.

Djokovic launched the case after Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used his ministerial powers to cancel the Serbian player’s visa, arguing that his presence in the country risked fanning anti-vaccine sentiment.

It was the second time his visa had been revoked, after a first cancellation over not following Covid entry rules was overturned by a different judge.

During Sunday’s court hearing before a three-judge panel, Djokovic’s defence unsuccessfully argued that the grounds given by the government were “invalid and illogical”.

Chief Justice James Allsop said the federal court’s ruling on Sunday was based on the lawfulness and legality of the minister’s decision, not on the “merits or wisdom of that decision”.

Full reasoning for the ruling will be made public in the coming days, he said.

Sunday’s decision marks the end of a 10-day saga over Djokovic’s Australian visa.

There has been much public anger in Australia over the player’s attempt to enter the country unvaccinated. The federal government has repeatedly said that no-one is above the strict rules in place to cope with the pandemic.

While Djokovic is not vaccinated, he has caught Covid-19 twice, with the latest positive test on 16 December.

He was originally granted an exemption to enter Australia by two different independent health panels – one commissioned by Tennis Australia, the other by the state government of Victoria. But Australian Border Force detained him on 5 January for not meeting federal coronavirus requirements.

A judge later overturned that decision, finding that border officials had ignored correct procedure when he arrived, but the government stepped in last Friday to revoke the visa again.

Djokovic will be replaced on Monday by Italy’s Salvatore Caruso, who is ranked 150th in the world, in his match against Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic.

In his statement, the world number one wished “players, tournament officials, staff, volunteers and fans all the best” for the Australian Open.

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