icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm
16 Jan, 2022 10:56

Aussie PM tells fans to ‘enjoy tennis’ after Djokovic deportation row

Scott Morrison says it is now time to focus on sport after rubber-stamping the deportation of the world's top player
Aussie PM tells fans to ‘enjoy tennis’ after Djokovic deportation row

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison wants to draw a line through the Novak Djokovic saga and has told fans to "get back to enjoying tennis" after his government deported the star because he has not received a Covid vaccine.

After nearly two weeks of headline-grabbing posturing, Morrison and his government have finally got their man. A prolonged court battle – and not the type that Djokovic is used to – ended in a straight-sets defeat for the Serbian icon when the unanimous verdict of a panel of three judges ruled that there was no impropriety in the deportation order levied against the Australian Open defending champion.

As such, Djokovic must now leave the country and abandon, for now at least, any hopes he had of winning what would have been a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title at a tournament he has become synonymous with over the course of the last decade or so. 

And as far as Morrison is concerned, justice was done.

"The full Federal Court of Australia unanimously decided to dismiss Mr Novak Djokovic's application for a judicial review which sought to challenge the Minister for Immigration's decision to cancel his visa," a statement from Morrison's office read.

"The cancelation decision was made on health, safety and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so.

"I welcome the decision to keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe.

"As I said on Friday, Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected.

"Over the pandemic, together we have achieved one of the lowest death rates, strongest economies and highest vaccination rates, in the world.

"Our government has always understood this and has been prepared to take the decisions and actions necessary to protect the integrity of our borders.

"I thank the court for their prompt attention to these issues and the patience of all involved as we have worked to resolve this issue.

"It's now time to get on with the Australian Open and get back to enjoying tennis over the summer."

Alex Hawke, the Minister for Immigration on whom Djokovic's legal right to be in the country ultimately rested, said in his own comments that the decision was made to deport the Serbian star in order to safeguard the country's borders.

Hawke wrote in part: "The Morrison government is firmly committed to protecting Australia's borders, particularly in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic."

The Liberal Party of Australia leader also added that "careful consideration" was given to evidence provided by the Australian Department of Home Affairs, the Border Force and documentation supplied by Djokovic and his legal team.

Figures suggest that there have been 2,673 Covid-related deaths in Australia, where around 78 percent of the population is said to have been vaccinated.

Djokovic, who said that he was "extremely disappointed" but that he respects the ruling, is expected to fly out of the country in the hours following the court ruling.

The tournament top seed was also ordered to pay legal costs and face the potential legal threat of a three-year ban from entering Australia – opening the door to another potential legal dispute which could undermine the integrity of the tournament well into the future.

The Australian Open runs from January 17-30 2022. With the specter of Djokovic set to loom large over the first Grand Slam of the year, Morrison's request for fans to "get back to enjoying tennis", one suspects, might just be a little easier said than done.