Novak Djokovic has lost his bid to stay in Australia after judges upheld the cancellation of his visa.
The saga, entailing the world No 1 and known vaccine sceptic, made headlines across the world, with supporters of the Serbian star saying it was a fight for freedom and critics saying he was trying to dodge the system.
Australia has endured one of the world’s toughest coronavirus lockdowns in the pandemic.
Here is a look at key moments in the saga.
4 January: Djokovic announces on Instagram that he has been given an exemption shortly before flying from Spain via Dubai to Melbourne. The announcement prompts a huge backlash in Australia.
Happy New Year! Wishing you all health, love & joy in every moment & may you feel love & respect towards all beings on this wonderful planet.
I’ve spent fantastic quality time with loved ones over break & today I’m heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let’s go 2022! pic.twitter.com/e688iSO2d4
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) January 4, 2022
5 January: Djokovic touches down at Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport.
6 January: Australia’s Border Force detains the tennis star in a room at the airport overnight, denying him permission to enter the country and notifying him of their intention to remove him.
The Serbian president protests with the Australian government as his visa is cancelled.
7 January: Djokovic faces 72 hours over the Orthodox Christmas holed up in a hotel for asylum seekers after a court agrees to hear his appeal against his cancelled visa.
9 January: Court documents reveal Djokovic had been granted a medical exemption on grounds of a COVID infection on 16 December.
10 January: A judge quashes the government’s decision to cancel his visa on the grounds it was unreasonable. Djokovic is freed from detention.
I’m pleased and grateful that the Judge overturned my visa cancellation. Despite all that has happened,I want to stay and try to compete @AustralianOpen
I remain focused on that. I flew here to play at one of the most important events we have in front of the amazing fans. 👇 pic.twitter.com/iJVbMfQ037
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) January 10, 2022
But the case is not over as Australian immigration minister Alexander Hawke said he would weigh the use of personal powers to decide whether he should still be deported.
Just after midnight, Djokovic tweeted a photo of himself practicing at Rod Laver arena.
11 January: Social media posts and eyewitness accounts contradict Djokovic’s immigration form declaration that he did not travel for 14 days before entering the country.
Social media also suggest that he attended public events while positive.
12 January: In a statement on Instagram, Djokovic says his agent made a mistake on his Australia entry form when providing details of his travel in the days before his arrival in the country. He apologises and says his team has provided additional information to the Australian Government to clarify this matter”.
Les avocats de Novak Djokovic ont fait parvenir un document de 35 pages au tribunal fédéral australien qui jugera son affaire lundi. Mais l’annonce du test positif au Covid-19 mi-décembre pourrait compliquer les affaires du Serbe au lieu de les arranger https://t.co/pGpe4mP2vl pic.twitter.com/3mO1tv8Qw7
— L’ÉQUIPE (@lequipe) January 8, 2022
He also apologises for leaving quarantine to do an interview and photoshoot with French magazine L’Equipe after receiving his positive PCR result. He says he “felt obliged to go ahead and conduct the L’Equipe interview as I didn’t want to let the journalist down”.
13 January: Djokovic is included in the Australian Open draw as top seed.
14 January: Immigration Minister Alex Hawke uses discretionary powers to cancel Djokovic’s visa for a second time, citing the risk of “civil unrest” and saying Djokovic could stoke anti-vaccination sentiment and pose a health risk.
Djokovic appeals the decision.
15 January: Djokovic returned to the immigration detention hotel where he was previously held. Some players, including Rafael Nadal and Emma Raducanu, lament the distraction brought by the case.
16 January: Judges uphold his cancellation visa, ordering him to be deported and ending his hopes to win his 10th Australian Open and a record 21 Grand Slam tournaments.