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Credit…Loren Elliott/Reuters

Novak Djokovic’s latest attempt to salvage his hopes of defending his Australian Open title has failed as judges ruled on Sunday that Australia’s immigration minister was within his rights to revoke the star’s visa. tennis not vaccinated for the second time on the grounds that the player could pose a risk to public health and order.

The judges’ decision is final.

Djokovic said in an emailed statement that he was “extremely disappointed” but respected the decision. He said he would “cooperate with the relevant authorities regarding my departure from the country”.

Djokovic’s legal team had argued in court on Sunday that Immigration Minister Alex Hawke erred in canceling Djokovic’s visa on the grounds that he could foster anti-vaccination sentiment in Australia. Hawke had not considered whether Djokovic’s expulsion could also fuel such sentiment, Djokovic’s lawyers argued.

But a panel of three federal judges rejected that argument and sided with the government. A lawyer for Hawke argued on Sunday that Djokovic’s team could not prove that the immigration minister failed to consider the consequences of his decision.

Chief Justice James Allsop did not give reasons for the judges’ decision, saying they would be provided by Monday at the earliest. The decision was unanimous, he told a hearing on Sunday afternoon. He added that Mr. Djokovic must pay the government’s legal fees.

He said the decision was not a reflection on the validity of Hawke’s decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa on Friday – only on the merits of his decision-making process.

Djokovic arrived at Melbourne Airport on Sunday evening, where he boarded an Emirates flight to Dubai. He could be banned from entering Australia for the next three years under its visa cancellation laws, but the government could waive it.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement he welcomed the decision “to keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe”, adding that “Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the outcome of those sacrifices to be protected.”

In Djokovic’s native Serbia, president Aleksandar Vucic said he spoke to the player and offered his support. “I told him that I cannot wait for him to come to Serbia and return to his country, and always welcome him,” Vucic said in a statement.

The dispute came up at the start of the Australian Open on Monday, a Grand Slam championship event that is one of the biggest tennis tournaments of the year along with the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.

As well as aiming for his 10th Australian Open men’s singles title, Djokovic was hoping to break a tie with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer for the most Grand Slam championships in tennis history. They each have 20.

“I am uncomfortable that the focus of the past few weeks has been on me, and I hope we can all now focus on the game and the tournament that I love,” Djokovic said in his statement. . “I wish the players, tournament officials, staff, volunteers and fans all the best for the tournament.”

The ATP Tour said in a statement that more time was needed “to take stock of the facts and learn from this situation”.

“Ultimately, the decisions of the judicial authorities regarding public health matters must be respected,” the group’s statement read, adding, “Novak is one of our sport’s greatest champions, and his absence from the Australian Open is a loss for the game”.

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