Novak Djokovic is set to be deported from Australia after losing a court appeal against the cancellation of his visa.
Three Federal Court judges upheld a decision to cancel the unvaccinated tennis star’s visa on public health grounds, meaning he cannot defend his Australian Open title.
In a statement following the decision, Djokovic said he was “extremely disappointed with the ruling” and he would be “taking some time to rest and to recuperate”.
He added: “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.”
The full reasons behind the court’s unanimous ruling will be published in the “coming days”.
Djokovic now faces a three-year ban on returning to the country, with the ruling coming just a day before the start of the Australian Open.
His visa was revoked for a second time on Friday after immigration minister Alex Hawke said the Serbian’s presence in Australia posed a public health risk.
Government lawyers argued that Djokovic risked whipping up anti-vaccination sentiment during Australia’s worst outbreak of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
It follows the controversial decision to grant the 34-year-old an exemption from COVID vaccination requirements to play at the Australian Open.
Djokovic’s lawyers had said a coronavirus infection last month meant he could legally enter the country.
The world number one player first had his visa revoked on arrival in Melbourne, but he won a court appeal against that cancellation which allowed him to remain in Australia.
He later acknowledged that his travel declaration was incorrect because it failed to indicate that he had been in multiple countries in the two-week period before his arrival in Australia.
Djokovic also admitted being interviewed in person by a journalist from a French magazine in December, even though he had tested positive for COVID the day before.
Following the second cancellation of his visa, Djokovic had returned to the immigration hotel in Melbourne where he spent four nights last week.
There has been criticism of the way the Australian government has handled the situation but public opinion has been firmly in favour of Djokovic being sent home.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has hit out at the Australian government, accusing it of “harassing” and “maltreating” Djokovic, and asking whether it is trying to score political points ahead of upcoming elections.
Djokovic – a nine-time Australian Open champion who is seeking a record 21st Grand Slam singles title – was due to play his first-round match against fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic on Monday. He will now be replaced in the draw by a lucky loser.