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Novak Djokovic 'to sue Australian government for £3m' over deportation
20 January 2022, 16:01
The world number one tennis star Novak Djokovic is said to be in talks with lawyers to sue the Australian government for more than £3 million over "ill treatment".
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The Serbian player, who is unvaccinated, was deported from the country on Sunday following an 11-day visa row over his jab status.
He was forced to leave Australia, where he was hoping to defend his Australian Open title, when his last-ditch bid to overturn a government deportation order was rejected by judges.
The world number one is now seeking damages worth $6 million (about £3.2 million) including $4.35m in prize money he expected to have won, according to The Sun.
A source close to his agent Edoardo Artladi said: "It's well known that Novak and his family feel he was poorly treated in the quarantine hotel in Melbourne.
"His mother revealed how it was full of fleas and maggots. He was kept a virtual prisoner."
The 34-year-old had his visa cancelled at the border when first arriving in Melbourne earlier this month despite being granted a medical exemption by Tennis Australia.
The nine-time Australian Open champion was then questioned overnight and had his visa cancelled by border officials the following morning.
His lawyers say he was medically exempt due to a positive Covid test result in December.
He spent the weekend in a government detention hotel before winning an appeal to have the decision overturned on the grounds of "procedural fairness" after the federal government conceded they were unfair in failing to give Djokovic enough time to prove his exemption.
He then had his visa cancelled for a second time last Friday and returned to detention once again while awaiting his second appeal hearing.
He was later deported when the Immigration Minister cancelled his visa for a second time, saying his presence could stir up anti-vaccine sentiment and that kicking him out was necessary to keep Australians safe.
A plane carrying the number one ranked player touched down in the capital Belgrade on Monday, to only a handful of fans waving the Serbian flag, despite many predicting a hero's welcome.
"God bless you Novak" read one of the banners held by the fans at the airport as he was whisked through passport control and customs and then driven by his brother Djordje to his apartment in Belgrade.
There is uncertainty over what will come next for the player ahead of the French Open, which is the next Grand Slam, in late May.
French officials have said a new law requiring vaccination to enter sports venues, restaurants and other public places, would have no exceptions.