Djokovic poses with fans in Dubai after being kicked out of Australia (VIDEO)
World number one Novak Djokovic took time for photographs with fans after the Serb landed in Dubai, where he was transferring en route to Belgrade after being deprived of the chance to defend his Australian Open title.
Djokovic was seen happily posing for photographs as he makes his way home after losing his last-ditch legal appeal to remain in Melbourne on Sunday.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion and his team arrived in Dubai on an Emirates flight early on Monday before boarding a plane due to land in the Serbian capital at around 12:10pm local time.
Djokovic was denied the chance to remain in Melbourne after Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke intervened to cancel the unvaccinated star’s visa.
Arguing their case on Sunday, government lawyers claimed that the unvaccinated Djokovic would excite anti-vaxx sentiment should he be allowed to stay in the country.
That came after the government’s initial decision to revoke the 34-year-old’s visa had been reversed by a federal circuit court judge.
The nine-time Australian Open champion had arrived Down Under on January 5 with a medical exemption granted by Tennis Australia and the Victoria state authorities, although federal officials deemed that insufficient reason for entry.
The saga has played out amid a political backdrop, with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic accusing the Australian authorities – including Prime Minister Scott Morrison – of conducting a “witch hunt” against Djokovic and “humiliating themselves” in the process.
Morrison has consistently backed the authorities in their efforts to deport Djokovic but has been accused of using the situation for political point-scoring in a country which has been subjected to some of the most stringent lockdown conditions anywhere on the planet during the pandemic.
When he does arrive back in his homeland, Djokovic is sure to be met with an outpouring of support.
Rallies have been held to back the national hero during his ordeal while the Djokovic family have held several high-profile press conferences decrying his treatment.
In a clear sign of allegiance to the tennis icon, the 168m Belgrade Tower in the Serbian capital was illuminated in the colors of the national flag on Sunday, with Djokovic’s nickname ‘Nole’ running down the skyscraper in bright lights.
“Tonight, Belgrade Tower had a message: Nole, you are the pride of Serbia. You are our hero,” read a social media message from one fan group.
By being deported from Australia, Djokovic is facing the threat of a three-year ban from the country.
In more immediate terms, it means Djokovic will not have the chance to win a record-extending 10th title overall in Melbourne – and what would be an outright record of 21 Grand Slams.