By Mary Cunningham

The Australian Open starts today.

Without No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic.

An Australian court struck down his appeal to have his visa reinstated for a second time today, meaning he’ll be deported, and so he said:

“I am extremely disappointed with the Court ruling to dismiss my application for judicial review of the Minister’s decision to cancel my visa, which means I cannot stay in Australia and participate in the Australian Open.

“I respect the Court’s ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country.”

He was scheduled to begin his title defense at the tournament Monday evening local time (5 a.m. ET). That spot will now be filled by an alternate.

This ends an unusual multiple-weeks long legal dispute that began when his visa was canceled on Jan. 6 upon his arrival in Melbourne for the tournament. That ruling was made because his medical exemption for the COVID-19 vaccine was considered ineligible by immigration officials.

Visitors to the country are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, barring an exemption. Djokovic, who is from Serbia, has stated he’s not vaccinated.

Though a judge reinstated his visa temporarily on Jan. 10 to allow him proper time to appeal, the back-and-forth battle continued when the decision was reversed three days later.

That left the tennis star with his final hope in the country’s Federal Court on Sunday. It didn’t go Djokovic’s way.

“I am uncomfortable that the focus of the past weeks has been on me and I hope that we can all now focus on the game and tournament I love. I would like to wish the players, tournament officials, staff, volunteers and fans all the best for the tournament.

“Finally, I would like to thank my family, friends, team, supporters, fans and my fellow Serbians for your continued support. You have all been a great source of strength to me.”

While the country’s strict COVID-19 vaccine policy is at the center of the issue, Djokovic further complicated matters by using false information on his immigration form.

On the document, he claimed to have not traveled in the two weeks leading up to his arrival in Australia. Djokovic later admitted he had in fact ventured to Spain in the prior days, and he apologized for the mistake.

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