DUBAI, United Arab Emirates –
Novak Djokovic’s arrival in Dubai early on Monday after he was deported from Australia for a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination ended the No 1 men’s hopes of defending the Australian Open title.
The Emirates plane carrying Djokovic landed after a 13 1/2 hour flight from Melbourne, where he argued in court that he should be allowed to stay in the country and compete in the tournament under a medical exemption due to the infection. coronavirus last month.
Dubai International Airport was empty early Monday morning as flights from Australia and Asia began arriving. Passengers wearing face masks are required to pack up their bags and step out of the passenger terminal. The first Muslim call to prayer before sunrise echoes over the station.
It’s not clear where Djokovic plans to go next. The Dubai Duty Free tennis tournament, which Djokovic won in 2020, will run until February 14.
Dubai, the commercial capital of the United Arab Emirates, does not require travelers to be vaccinated, although they must have a negative PCR test result to board.
Djokovic has won nine Australian Open titles, including three in a row, and a total of 20 Grand Slam singles titles, tying rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal the most in men’s tennis history. Federer did not compete during his recovery from injury, and Nadal was the only former Australian Open men’s singles champion at the tournament that began Monday.
Djokovic’s visa was initially canceled on January 6 by a border official who decided he was not eligible for the Australian medical exemption for unvaccinated travelers. He was exempt from the tournament’s vaccine regulations because he had been infected with the virus within the previous six months.
He won an appeal to stay in the tournament, but Australia’s immigration minister later revoked his visa. Three Federal Court judges unanimously decided on Sunday to assert the Immigration Minister’s right to revoke Djokovic’s visa.
Vaccination amid the pandemic is mandatory for everyone at the Australian Open, whether the players, their coach or anyone at the tournament venue. More than 95% of the top 100 men and women in their respective travel charts have been vaccinated. At least two men – American Tennys Sandgren and Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert – skipped the first major tournament of the year due to vaccine requirements.
Djokovic’s attempt to get a medical exemption for not being vaccinated has sparked fury in Australia, where cities and international travel bans are strictly enforced to try to control the spread of the virus. spread of the coronavirus since the pandemic began.