Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia

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Hundred of supporters gathered at the Nicola Tesla airport in Belgrade on Monday as Novak Djokovic landed in Serbia following his deportation from Australia.

The world No 1 returned home after failing in his quest to defend the Australian Open title following a long-drawn battle over his visa and vaccination status that saw him being evicted from Australia.

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Djokovic left Australia late on Sunday and boarded an Emirates flight to Dubai after the Federal Court upheld a government decision to cancel his visa, ending days of drama over the country’s Covid-19 entry rules and his unvaccinated status.

Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
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The Serbian star was first detained by immigration authorities on January 6, ordered released by a court on January 10 and then detained again on Saturday pending Sunday’s court hearing.

By the end, Djokovic said he was extremely disappointed by the ruling but respected the court’s decision.

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“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 the tournament I love,” Djokovic said in a statement before flying out of Melbourne. He landed in Belgrade after a brief stopover in Dubai.

The 34-year-old received widespread support in his home country, with the Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic calling the treatment of a national hero “scandalous”.

As he landed in Serbia, supporters – some waving national flags – outside Belgrade airport chanted “You are our champion, Novak!”

However, the tennis star’s exit from Australia might not be the end of the drama as questions arose over whether he would be barred from the next Grand Slam tournament, the French Open.

Djokovic had argued in an Australian court he should be allowed to stay and compete because a recent coronavirus infection meant he was exempt from strict vaccination rules. But Australian authorities cited the public interest in revoking his visa, saying his presence could stir up anti-vaccine sentiments and that kicking him out was necessary to keep Australians safe.

Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic walks with his team after landing at Dubai International Airport on January 17, 2022 after the Australian Federal Court upheld a government decision to cancel his visa to play in the Australian Open. Reuters Novak Djokovic walks through Dubai International Airport after landing from Melbourne where he was deported on Sunday. Reuters Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic after landing in Dubai. Reuters Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic. Reuters Novak Djokovic lost his appeal Sunday after the Australian government cancelled his visa for a second time. Reuters World No 1 men’s tennis player Novak Djokovic walks with his team at Dubai Airport. Reuters Novak Djokovic poses for a selfie. Reuters Novak Djokovic seen walking through Dubai International Airport shortly after arriving from Melbourne. Reuters Serbia’s tennis champion Novak Djokovic disembarks from a plane at the airport in Dubai. AFP Novak Djokovic poses for a selfie after landing at Dubai Airport. Reuters Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic walks in Melbourne Airport before boarding a flight to Dubai. Reuters Novak Djokovic walks through departures at Melbourne Airport before boarding a flight to Dubai. Reuters Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic walks in Melbourne Airport escorted by aides. Reuters A Federal Court upheld a government decision to cancel Novak Djokovic’s visa to play in the Australian Open, in Melbourne. Reuters This screen grab taken from AFPTV shows a Dubai-bound plane carrying Serbia’s Novak Djokovic preparing to depart from Melbourne Airport on January 16, 2022, after Djokovc lost a legal battle over his coronavirus vaccination status with his dream of clinching a record 21st Grand Slam in tatters. AFP

Now there is uncertainty over his participation in Paris. A member of the French Parliament said a new law that will exclude unvaccinated people from sports venues, restaurants and other public places will apply to anyone who wants to play in the tournament.

Their sports ministry said on Monday that there would be no exemption from France’s new vaccine pass law.

“The rule is simple. The vaccine pass will be imposed, as soon as the law is promulgated, in establishments that were already subject to the health pass,” the ministry said.

“This will apply to everyone who is a spectator or a professional sportsperson. And this until further notice.

“Now, as far as Roland Garros is concerned, it’s in May. The situation may change between now and then and we hope that it will be more favourable. So we’ll see, but clearly there’s no exemption.”

Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak is appealing Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s use of discretionary powers to cancel his visa again on the grounds that he was a threat to public order because his presence would encourage anti-vaccination sentiment amidst Australia’s worst outbreak of the virus. AFP Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic departs the Park Hotel while under immigration detention, to convene with his legal team after his visa to play in the Australian Open was cancelled a second time, in Melbourne, Australia, January 16, 2022. Reuters Three Federal Court judges will decide the fate of the world No 1 after a rollercoaster 10 days that saw him detained by immigration authorities, released and then detained again ahead of a tournament that starts on Monday. Reuters Supporters of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic gather outside the offices of Djokovic’s legal team, as they listen to an audio court hearing. Getty Images Supporters of tennis player Novak Djokovic wave national flags as they gather in front of Federal Court building in Melbourne. AFP Goran Zabic, a Serbian supporter of tennis player Novak Djokovic, arrives in front of the office of Djokovic’s lawyers on January 16, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. Getty Images Supporters of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic hold their flags outside the Federal Court building in Melbourne. AP Photo Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic departs the Park Hotel while under immigration detention, to convene with his legal team. Reuters Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic is photographed as he is transported from an Immigration Hotel in Melbourne. EPA The Serb, 34, was escorted to his lawyers office by immigration officials to attend the virtual court hearing on Sunday morning, having spent Saturday night back in an immigration detention hotel in Melbourne. Getty Images Media attempt to photograph Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic as he is transported from an Immigration Hotel in Melbourne, Australia. EPA Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic departs the Park Hotel while under immigration detention. Reuters Supporters of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic gather outside the offices of Djokovic’s legal team on January 16, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. Djokovic lost his attempt to overturn his deportation with the judges ruling unanimously to uphold the Australian government decision to cancel his visa. Getty Images Members of the media wait outside the car park of the office of the legal team of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic. Getty Images Supporters of Novak Djokovic hold national flags as they gather in front of Federal Court building . AFP

The latest developments in France marked a reversal from prior plans to create a “bubble” around the tournament, scheduled for late May into June.

Major events like the French Open previously permitted unvaccinated athletes to compete as they operated a health bubble around the tournament.

If no exemption is possible, the measure would dash the 34-year-old Serb’s hopes of defending his French Open title and potentially winning an unprecedented 21st Grand Slam singles crown.

Djokovic’s hopes of a Grand Slam success in 2022 would then rest on Wimbledon as New York vaccination rules, as they stand now, would rule him out of the US Open.

For now, Djokovic can look forward to a warm welcome at home.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has accused the Australian government of “harassing” the top-ranked tennis star and urged him to return where he would be welcomed.

Djokovic’s 20 Grand Slams

Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic back in Serbia after deportation from Australia
2008: Novak Djokovic beats Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 4–6, 6–4, 6–3, 7–6 to win the Australian Open. 2011: Djokovic beats Andy Murray 6–4, 6–2, 6–3 to win the Australian Open . 2011: Novak Djokovic beats Rafael Nadal 6–4, 6–1, 1–6, 6–3 to win Wimbledon. 2011: Djokovic beats Rafael Nadal 6–2, 6–4, 6–7, 6–1 to win the US Open. 2012: Djokovic beats Rafael Nadal 5–7, 6–4, 6–2, 6–7, 7–5 to win the Australian Open. 2013: Djokovic beats Andy Murray 6–7, 7–6, 6–3, 6–2 to win the Australian Open. 2014: Djokovic triumphs 6–7, 6–4, 7–6, 5–7, 6–4 against Roger Federer for the Wimbledon title. 2015: Djokovic beats Andy Murray 7–6, 6–7, 6–3, 6–0 for victory at the Australian Open. 2015: Djokovic beats Roger Federer 7-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-3 to win Wimbledon. 2015: Djokovic beats Roger Federer 6–4, 5–7, 6–4, 6–4 to win the US Open. 2016: Djokovic beats Andy Murray 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 to win the Australian Open. 2016: Djokovic beats Andy Murray 3–6, 6–1, 6–2, 6–4 for the French Open. 2018: Djokovic crushes Kevin Anderson 6–2, 6–2, 7–6 to win Wimbledon. 2018: Djokovic beats Juan Martin del Potro 6–3, 7–6, 6–3 for his third US Open. 2019: Djokovic beats Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 for victory at the Australian Open. 2019: Djokovic beats Roger Federer 7-6, 1-6, 7-6, 4-6, 13-12 to win Wimbledon. 2020: Djokovic triumphs 6–4, 4–6, 2–6, 6–3, 6–4 against Dominic Thiem for the Australian Open. 2021: Djokovic celebrates a 7–5, 6–2, 6–2 victory against Daniil Medvedev to win his ninth Australian Open. 2021: Djokovic beats Stefanos Tsitsipas 6–7, 2–6, 6–3, 6–2, 6–4 for his second French Open. 2021: Djokovic beats Matteo Berrettini 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 to win Wimbledon for the sixth time.

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