Novak Djokovic arrived in Dubai early Monday after being deported from Australia for failing to obtain the needed COVID-19 vaccination, therefore destroying the No. 1 ranked men’s tennis player’s aspirations of retaining his Australian Open championship.

The Emirates plane carrying Djokovic landed after a 13 1/2-hour flight from Melbourne, where he had challenged in court that he should be permitted to stay in the country and compete in the event owing to a coronavirus infection last month.

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Arriving travellers at Dubai International Airport, who were required to wear face masks, retrieved their baggage and exited the massive airport. Djokovic did not exit baggage claim for over an hour after his flight arrived though many passengers from his jet had already picked up their bags on the carousel.

He was later seen boarding a jet bound for Belgrade, the Serbian capital. His lawyers argued in an Australian court on Sunday that he should be allowed to stay in the nation and partake in the Australian Open because of not having a vaccination certificate, due to a coronavirus infection in December.

Djokovic has won nine Australian Open titles, including three in a row, and 20 Grand Slam singles titles, tying him with rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most in men’s tennis history. Federer is out due to injury, while Nadal is the only former Australian Open men’s champion in the competition, which began on Monday.

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Djokovic’s visa was initially revoked on January 6 by a border official who determined he did not qualify for a medical exemption from Australia’s unvaccinated visitor requirements. He was exempt from the vaccine rules of the event since he had been infected with the virus within the last six months.

He won an appeal to stay for the competition, but his visa was later canceled by Australia’s immigration minister. Three Federal Court justices unanimously agreed on Sunday to uphold the immigration minister’s jurisdiction to revoke Djokovic’s visa.

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Djokovic’s attempt to obtain a medical exemption for not being vaccinated sparked outrage in Australia, where strict city lockdowns and international travel restrictions have been implemented to try to control the spread of the coronavirus since the pandemic began.