The Emirates plane carrying Djokovic landed after a 13.5-hour flight from Melbourne, where he had argued in court that he should be allowed to stay in the country and take part in the tournament on an exemption medical due to coronavirus infection last month.
Dubai International Airport was quiet early Monday morning as flights from Australia and Asia began arriving. Passengers wearing mandatory masks collected their luggage and exited the cavernous terminal. The first Muslim call to prayer before sunrise echoed through the terminal.
It was not immediately clear where Djokovic planned to travel next. The Dubai Duty Free tennis tournament, which Djokovic won in 2020, does not start until February 14.
Dubai, the commercial capital of the United Arab Emirates, does not require travelers to be vaccinated, although they must present 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 trophies, tied with rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most in tennis history. male. Federer is not playing while recovering from injury, and Nadal is the only former Australian Open men’s champion in the tournament which started on Monday.
Djokovic’s visa was initially canceled on January 6 by a border official who decided he did not qualify for a medical exemption from Australian rules for unvaccinated visitors. He was exempted from the tournament’s vaccination rules as he had been infected with the virus in the previous six months.
He won an appeal to stay for the tournament, but the Australian Immigration Minister later revoked his visa. Three Federal Court judges unanimously decided on Sunday to affirm the immigration minister’s right to cancel Djokovic’s visa.
Vaccination amid the pandemic was a requirement for anyone at the Australian Open, be it the players, their coaches or anyone at the tournament site. Over 95% of all Top 100 men and women in their respective tour rankings are vaccinated. At least two men – American Tennys Sandgren and Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert – skipped the first major tournament of the year due to the vaccine requirement.
Djokovic’s attempt to secure the medical exemption for not being vaccinated has sparked anger in Australia, where strict city closures and restrictions on international travel have been used to try to control the spread of the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.