Novak Djokovic says he will respect the decision by a federal court after losing his appeal to remain in Australia, with the Serbian star set to be deported ahead of the opening Grand Slam of the season in Melbourne.
“I’d like to make a brief statement to address the outcomes of today’s Court hearing,” read a message from the 34-year-old on Sunday.
“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 ruling to dismiss my application for judicial review of the 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’ll co-operate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from Australia.
“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.”
A federal court voted unanimously to dismiss Djokovic’s appeal against the cancelation of his visa, which had come after the personal intervention of Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke into his case.
Djokovic had been granted a stay of execution when a Melbourne federal circuit court judge on Monday reversed the initial efforts to deport the Serb.
However, the world number one was not able to win his second court battle Down Under after government lawyers had argued that the unvaccinated star’s continued presence in the country would serve as inspiration for anti-vaxx sentiment.
Djokovic’s lawyers had asserted that removing him from the country had far more potential to incite the anti-vaccine community.
Chief Justice James Allsop said the ruling to uphold Hawke’s decision to revoke Djokovic's visa was unanimous, stating that the federal court was not being asked to decide on the merits of the minister’s decision, but rather to review the legality of that decision.
The ruling means that Djokovic will not have a chance to defend the title in Melbourne which he has won for the past three years in a row and a record nine times in total.
The Serb will also have to wait for his shot at a historic 21st Grand Slam title overall.
Sunday’s court decision means that Djokovic could face a three-year ban from reentering Australia.