Novak Djokovic arrived in Dubai early Monday after being deported from Australia for failing to obtain the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination. His deportation destroyed his aspirations of defending his Australian Open championship.
Djokovic arrived in Dubai after a 13 1/2-hour journey from Melbourne. He argued in court that he should be allowed to stay in the nation and compete in the event of a medical exemption following a coronavirus infection last month.
At Dubai International Airport, arriving travelers who were required to wear face masks retrieved their belongings and exited the terminal's cavernous interior. Djokovic did not exit baggage claim for over an hour after his flight arrived, as several passengers from his jet had already picked up their luggage on the carousel.
It was unclear where Djokovic intended to head next. The tennis tournament Dubai Duty-Free, which Djokovic won in 2020, does not begin until Feb. 14.
Dubai, the United Arab Emirates' economic center, does not require tourists to be vaccinated, but they must provide a negative PCR test to board a flight.
Djokovic had won nine Australian Open titles, including three in a row, and a total of 20 Grand Slam singles titles, tying him for the most in men's tennis history with rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Federer is not competing due to an injury, while Nadal is the lone former Australian Open men's champion.
Djokovic's visa was initially revoked on Jan. 6 by a border inspector who determined he did not qualify for a medical exemption from Australia's vaccination requirements. He was exempt from the tournament's immunization requirements due to a recent infection with the virus.
He won an appeal to stay for the competition, but Australia's immigration minister later canceled his visa. Three Federal Court justices unanimously upheld the immigration minister's power to revoke Djokovic's visa on Sunday.
Vaccination was mandatory for everybody attending the Australian Open during the pandemic, including players, coaches, and tournament staff. Over 95% of the men and women in the Top 100 of their respective tours are immunized. At least two men — Tennys Sandgren of the United States and Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France — opted out of the year's first major tournament owing to the vaccine requirement.
Djokovic's attempt to obtain a medical exemption for not having been vaccinated aroused outrage in Australia, where tight city lockdowns and travel restrictions have been implemented to try to contain the coronavirus's spread since the pandemic began.