The Australian government has been slammed for its handling of the Novak Djokovic saga following the news he will be deported and will miss the Australian Open.
The 20-time grand slam champion failed to overturn Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s decision to cancel his visa.
The case was heard by a full bench of the Federal Court of Australia, and speaking on behalf of the full court, Chief Justice James Allsop handed down their orders on Sunday afternoon, less than 24 hours before the Australian Open gets underway.
The decision was unanimous, and full reasons will be published at a later date.
Australians and tennis fans described the conclusion to the Djokovic saga as an embarrassing farce that reflects poorly on Australia and the federal government.
British journalist Dawn Neesom added: “So Australian Government said allowing Djokovic to play would make him an anti-vax hero.
“But by deporting him and potentially banning him for 3 years they’ve made him a martyr.
“What a mess.”
British broadcaster Piers Morgan tweetd: “Covid rule cheat, immigration form liar, and anti-vaxxer icon Novak Djokovic loses final appeal … Good.”
Journalist Monica Attard tweeted: “What an appalling state of affairs that the government can have and use blanket, god-like power to evict someone with whose views it disagrees.
Newsreader Michelle Stephenson said: What an absolute embarrassment for this country.”
Australian jornalist Sophie Elsworth tweeted: “What a mess the handling of this whole case was, embarrassing for Australia and the grand slam tournament.”
On Friday, Alex Hawke made the call to deport Djokovic from Australia “on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so”. The Minster used his personal power to overturn a decision in the Federal Circuit Court on Monday that allowed the tennis star to remain in the country.
Djokovic was taken back to a detention hotel on Saturday after Mr Hawke said the tennis star’s opposition to getting the jab “may foster anti-vaccination sentiment” and cause “civil unrest”.
Not only could Djokovic encourage people to flout health rules, Hawke said, but his presence could lead to “civil unrest”.
With the Australian Open starting on Monday, Djokovic launched a last-ditch legal bid to keep his dream of winning a 21st grand slam title alive.
The case was heard by a full bench of the Federal Court of Australia, comprised of Chief Justice James Allsop, Justice Anthony Besanko and Justice David O’Callaghan.
After months of speculation about whether Djokovic would get vaccinated to play in Australia, he used a medical exemption to enter the country two weeks ago, hoping to challenge for a record 21st grand slam title at the Australian Open.
Many Australians — who have suffered prolonged lockdowns and border restrictions — believe Djokovic gamed the system to dodge vaccine entry requirements. Amid public outcry, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government revoked Djokovic’s visa on arrival.
But the government was humiliated when a judge reinstated Djokovic’s visa and allowed him to remain in the country.
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