By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
Djokovic lost a last-ditch court bid to stay in the country as the government canceled his visa on “health and good order” grounds.
The 34-year old Djokovic said he was “extremely disappointed” but accepted the ruling.
He left Australia on a flight to Dubai on Sunday, prompting anger in his native Serbia. President Aleksandar Vucic described Australia’s treatment of Novak Djokovic as “torment and torture.”
The Serbian leader said he spoke to the tennis star on the phone for about 12 minutes after judges ruled he would be deported from Australia to “cheer him up.”
“I wanted to say we are all proud of him. And that we wait for him in his and our Serbia. Of course, we are all disappointed because if [Australia] wanted to do so, why they didn’t do it ten days ago?” the president said.
“It’s not only the fact that they were tormenting him. They were torturing him. It was not only intellectual but also physical torture against Novak,” he added.
“Plus, there was also the most terrible campaign against one athlete. It was like he became a mass killer or something like that, which is not the case at all,” Vucic stressed.
The cancellation of his visa meant Djokovic would not be able to defend his Australian Open title.
Djokovic, who opposed receiving a COVID-19 jab, became a symbol of the movement opposing vaccination mandates.
A panel of three Australian federal justices upheld the immigration minister’s decision to cancel the unvaccinated athlete’s visa. They said his presence in the country might incite anti-vaccine sentiment and “civil unrest.”
Djokovic’s legal team had unsuccessfully argued in court that the immigration minister, Alex Hawke, had erred by choosing to cancel Djokovic’s visa because he could encourage anti-vaccination feelings in Australia.
There have been massive protests against vaccine mandates and lockdowns in the country. The ruling could mean that Djokovic may not be able to enter Australia for three years to defend his title.
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