Novak Djokovic is not going to be able to defend his Australian Open title. The tennis star, who was the No. 1 seed in the tournament, lost his appeal against the Australian government's ruling to cancel his visa early Sunday morning, according to the Associated Press. He left the country, headed for Dubai after a unanimous ruling by a three judge panel. The Australian government may still hand him a three-year ban from entering the country.
Three judges upheld a decision made on Friday by the immigration minister to cancel the 34-year-old Serb's visa on public interest grounds, saying his presence might be a risk to the health and "good order" of the Australian public and "may be counterproductive to efforts at vaccination by others in Australia."
Djokovic was scheduled to play his first match in the tournament on Monday against Miomir Kecmanovic, who is also from Serbia. However, Djokovic issued a statement expressing his disappointment with the decision and indicated he will be unable to participate.
The controversy around Djokovic's visa and presence in Australia stems from him not being vaccinated against COVID-19. Every player at the tournament is required to be vaccinated but organizers were allowed to give out exemptions to players.
Djokovic was given an exemption and arrived in Australia earlier in January. Shortly thereafter, he was detained due to a visa issue on paperwork his team filled out. A border official canceled his visa after deciding Djokovic didn't qualify for a medical exemption from Australia's rules for unvaccinated visitors.
If Djokovic is not able to play, he will remain tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer for the most men's Grand Slam titles with 20.