Novak Djokovic’s bid to overturn his visa cancellation has failed, ending his hopes to defend his Australian Open title.
The Federal Court on Sunday upheld the government’s decision to deport the Serbian tennis star ahead of the Australian Open.
It followed a marathon visa battle heard by a full federal court bench, meaning there will be no avenue for further appeal within the court.
The decision to boot Djokovic is expected to create huge waves worldwide and stoke renewed anger by anti-vaccination groups which view him as a leader of freedom.
His visa was cancelled by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke for a second time on Friday for reasons including concerns the player’s presence in the country could undermine Australia’s Covid-19 response.
Lawyers for Djokovic argued that the cancellation of his visa itself would more likely spur significant anti-vax sentiment, including large-scale protests.
Chief Justice Allsop declared the decision to boot Djokovic was unanimous across the full bench.
“This is not an appeal against the decision of the executive government,” he told the court.
“It is an application to the court as a separate arm of government being the Commonwealth judicial branch to review a decision by a member of executive, the minister, for the lawfulness or legality of the decision on the three grounds put forward.
“These grounds focus on whether decision was for different reasons irrational or legally unreasonable. It is no part or function of the court to decide upon the merit or wisdom of the decision.”
Djokovic was ordered to pay costs. The hearing has been adjourned to consider if any other orders are needed.
Tennis Australia will now need to come up with an alternative play schedule for Monday night.