THE Australian Open 2022 is going ahead without the world’s best tennis player.
Novak Djokovic will miss out on the competition where he has enjoyed the most success, winning nine times, after the Federal Court backed a decision by the country’s immigration minister to cancel his visa.
Djokovic said of the decision: “I would like to make a brief statement to address the outcomes of today’s Court hearing.
“I 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.
“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.
“Finally, I would like to thank my family, friends, team, supporters, fans and my fellow Serbians for your continued support. You have all been a great source of strength to me.”
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Why was Novak Djokovic’s visa cancelled?
Novak Djokovic’s visa was cancelled twice by the Australian authorities.
The first time, on January 5, the Australian Border Force were not satisfied that the Serb’s prior infection with Covid was an adequate medical exemption to vaccination.
However, this decision was quashed on January 10 by Judge Kelly of the Federal Circuit Court for procedural reasons.
On the evening of January 14, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke made a new order cancelling the Serb’s visa “on health and good order grounds, adding that it was in the public interest to do so”.
In his submission to the Federal Court, Hawke stated that he was “willing to accept” Novak Djokovic had a valid medical exemption from vaccination to travel to Australia.
However, he added that Djokovic’s status as a high profile unvaccinated person, his views on vaccination and his failure to isolate after testing positive in Serbia could be a threat to public health and public order.
Specifically, he believed that Djokovic being allowed to remain in Australia could embolden anti-vax groups and encourage other people to ignore Covid rules refuse vaccination or not complete their full course of vaccination.
Djokovic then lost his appeal against Hawke’s order at the Federal Court.
Explaining the process that led to the rejection of the appeal, Chief Justice Allsop explained that the court could only rule in favour of Djokovic if the decision was “irrational” or “legally unreasonable” and that it could not decide on the merits or wisdom of the decision.
Will Novak Djokovic be allowed to play at Wimbledon?
It is almost certain that Novak Djokovic will be allowed to play at Wimbledon this year.
England has no restrictions on athletes’ participation in professional sport based on their vaccination status.
Fans are currently required to produce proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter sporting events, but this requirement is expected to be removed by the government on January 26.
Unvaccinated members of the public are currently required to quarantine for ten days upon entering the UK, but athletes are allowed to train and participate in sport during the ten-day period.
Will Novak Djokovic be allowed to play at the French Open?
The next Grand Slam is the French Open in June.
And French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu previously confirmed that Novak Djokovic would be allowed to defend his title under a bubble system.
However, France has now reversed course and introduced a vaccine-only system for both the public and athletes for entry to all sporting arenas.
That means as things stand it is unlikely Djokovic would be allowed to play.
The system is likely to be put to its first big test next month, when the Six Nations takes place as well as European football matches.
Will Novak Djokovic be able to compete at the US Open?
The US Open was the only Grand Slam the Serb failed to win last year, and has been something of a jinx for him recently.
Djokovic has not won it since 2018 and was thrown out of the tournament in 2020 and beaten by Daniil Medvedev in the 2021 final.
There is no suggestion Djokovic won’t be able to compete, but the US Open has the strictest protocols of the three Grand Slams outside Australia.
Fans in New York are not allowed to enter sporting events without proof of full vaccination.