Djokovic wasted no time leaving Australia after his legal bid to stay failed yesterday, boarding an Emirates flight to the United Arab Emirates, a country that does not require travellers to be vaccinated.
It could be years before Djokovic can add to his record nine Australian Open titles, if he ever decides to return at all.
The Australian government may choose to allow Djokovic in before the end of a three-year ban, but the Minister for Home Affairs said such speculation is simply “hypothetical”.
Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said there could be “compelling” reasons for the world No.1 to be granted a visa despite the ban.
“But that’s all hypothetical at this point, any application will be reviewed on its merits,” she said.
The prime minister insisted the deportation of Djokovic would not increase anti-vaccination sentiment in Australia.
“The rules are the rules,” he said.
“This is about someone who sought to come to Australia but did not comply with the entry requirements at the border.
“There is the opportunity for him to return in the right circumstances.”
Ms Andrews first learned Djokovic had been granted a visa thanks to a post on his Instagram account, she claimed.
Before boarding a flight for Australia, Djokovic declared he was on his way to play in the Australian Open, despite not having ever been vaccinated for the coronavirus.
Ms Andrews rejected claims the Australian government should never have granted him a visa.
Instead, Ms Andrews said, Border Force and the Department of Home Affairs government gave him the opportunity to produce documentation on his arrival and bolster his case to enter.
“He was unable to do that,” she said.
Justin Quill, a partner at law firm Thomson Geer Lawyers, said Australia looked like “clowns” in front of the world, because of the Djokovic debacle.
“You can point the finger at state, federal or Tennis Australia, but to the world at large, it’s just Australia.
“We told the guy he’s got an exemption, we invited him here, we gave him a visa.”
The Australian Open commenced today.