Fabien Galthie provided an encouraging update on Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack after France's key duo tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the Six Nations.

Les Bleus' preparation for the tournament has been hard hit by a host of contracting coronavirus.  

Bernard Le Roux had to make 11 changes to his 42-man squad, with World Rugby Player of the Year Dupont, fly-half Ntamack and Bernard Le Roux among those who were unable to report for international duty.

Galthie on Wednesday revealed the absentees due to COVID-19 are recovering well ahead of his side's opening game of the tournament against Italy at Stade de France a week on Sunday.

The France head coach said: "We keep in touch with all the players from afar, of course.

"We have good news concerning the players and their state of health and spirit and all are doing well."

Mercurial scrum-half Dupont has not played since December 11 due to a knee injury and coronavirus.

Galthie says the playmaker could return for Toulouse in their Top 14 encounter with Racing 92 on Saturday.

"I have spoken to him: he is doing well. He resumed training two weeks ago," said Galthie 

"He wanted to play against Cardiff but the match did not go ahead. Then of course he tested positive for COVID. But he is fine, and is still training. Today he had a test at his club and depending on the results he will play or not for Toulouse this weekend.

"That is up to his head coach Ugo Mola and I have confidence in him he will take the right decision both for his team and for Antoine."

It is 12 years since France won the Six Nations, but they are favourites to end that title drought this time around and that is music to Galthie's ears. 

"I am very happy with this compliment, we’re very happy and proud to be labelled as favourites," he said.

"We are very happy to hear all those positive comments. It's very rewarding, it's rewarding for our two-year work, it's rewarding for all the commitment of the players, the virtues of the team and their dedication on the pitch."

Inter coach Simone Inzaghi has tested positive for coronavirus.

The Serie A champions confirmed the 45-year-old returned a positive test on Monday following routine testing.

In a brief statement, Inter informed supporters that Inzaghi "will now follow the protocols set out in the healthcare guidelines".

Nevertheless, the news is not expected to result in major disruption for the club given they are not to be in action again until February 5, when they host neighbours Milan in the Derby della Madonnina.

Under Italian Football Federation (FIGC) guidelines, players and staff only need to isolate for three days if they are showing no symptoms.

Similarly, any players deemed to be a close contact of Inzaghi's will still be able to train as long as they have not tested positive for the virus.

Measures were introduced at the start of the month that meant players, staff and fans had to have received at least two doses of a coronavirus vaccine to be allowed into stadiums.

However, even before that rule was brought in, Serie A was reported to have had as many as 98 per cent of players already double vaccinated.

Australian Open chief executive Craig Tiley will not stand down from his position over the handling of the Novak Djokovic case and has refuted claims that Tennis Australia funded the world number one's legal expenses.

Tiley was speaking after the Federal Court published the written reasons for rejecting Djokovic's appeal to remain in Australia, stating it was "plainly open" to Immigration Minister Alex Hawke that the reigning Australian Open champion was opposed to a COVID-19 vaccination.

Djokovic failed in his second bid to overturn a decision from the government to cancel his visa on public health grounds at the Federal Court in Melbourne on Sunday, a day before the Australian Open started.

The 20-time grand slam winner arrived back in Belgrade on Monday, bringing an end to a saga that began after he was held at an airport in Melbourne on January 6 due to his travel declaration form containing incorrect information.

It was reported this week that Tennis Australia covered all of Djokovic's legal fees, but Tiley – who was jeered by spectators on Thursday while on-court to present flowers to the retiring Samantha Stosur – denied that was the case.

"I have seen those reports and we don't really go into the detail of financial arrangements we have with players," he told Channel 9. "But those reports are simply untrue."

Asked if he intended to step aside as chief executive due to the perceived mishandling of the saga, Tiley replied "no" before turning focus to the remainder of the tournament.

"I am very focused today on delivering a great event," he said.

"I am proud of being able to stand up here and you can see what is behind us. I am proud of what the team has done and what we have delivered so far."

Djokovic won his first appeal to avoid deportation from Australia, but Hawke used separate powers to again cancel the 34-year-old's visa.

That decision was taken amid much backlash in Australia and was upheld unanimously by three judges of the Federal Court's full bench.

Four days on from that verdict, which denied Djokovic the chance to win a record-extending 10th Australian Open crown, Chief Justice James Allsop delivered the court's reasons for rejecting the challenge.

It was found that it was reasonable for Hawke to be concerned by Djokovic's high-profile presence in the country as it "may encourage rallies and protests that may lead to heightened community transmission."

"An iconic tennis star may influence people of all ages, young or old, but perhaps especially the young and the impressionable, to emulate him," Allsop added in his report.

"This is not fanciful; it does not need evidence.

"Even if Mr Djokovic did not win the Australian Open, the capacity of his presence in Australia playing tennis to encourage those who would emulate or wish to be like him is a rational foundation for the view that he might foster anti-vaccination sentiment.

"I consider that behaviour by influential persons and role models, which demonstrates a failure to comply with, or a disregard of, public health measures has the potential to undermine the efficacy and consistency of the Australian Government’s and State and Territory Governments' management of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic.

"Mr Djokovic is such a person of influence and status. Having regard to the matters set out above regarding Mr Djokovic's conduct after receiving a positive COVID-19 result, his publicly stated views, as well as his unvaccinated status, I consider that his ongoing presence in Australia may pose a risk to the good order of the Australian community."

Lionel Messi has not been included in Lionel Scaloni's latest Argentina squad as he continues to recover from coronavirus.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward has not played a match in almost a month, with the 1-1 Ligue 1 draw at Lorient on December 22 being his most recent outing.

He contracted COVID-19 while back home in Argentina during the mid-season break, forcing him to return to France later than initially planned.

Messi seemed all set to return to action against Lyon on January 9, but PSG said he needed to continue his recovery and then he also missed the 2-0 win over Brest on Saturday.

While he said last week that "I have almost recovered", Messi did reveal on social media that getting over the illness took "longer than I thought".

Given his situation, Argentina have seemingly deemed it pointless risking Messi or further disrupting his recovery given they have already secured qualification for this year's World Cup.

Argentina travel to Chile on Thursday before hosting Colombia five days later, with both opponents still desperately fighting for the right to play at Qatar 2022.

La Albiceleste's other remaining qualifiers are against Venezuela and surprise-package Ecuador in March.

 

Mikel Arteta hit back at Arsenal's critics following the postponement of Sunday's north London derby as he insisted "we did the right thing."

The Gunners were due to make the short trip to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for a showdown with their fierce rivals, but the game was called off due to a lack of players available to Arteta.

Arsenal were accused of exploiting the Premier League's rules, with the majority of players absent due to injury, suspension or Africa Cup of Nations duty.

The club only one confirmed positive COVID-19 case at the time of lodging an application to get the derby called off, but the Premier League deemed they were unable to meet the required number of available players – 13 outfielders and a goalkeeper – despite their Under-23s having a squad of 16 for a game on Friday.

Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte felt the decision to postpone the match was "very, very strange."

Arsenal manager Arteta hit back on the eve of Thursday's EFL Cup semi-final second leg at home to Liverpool, which he expects to go ahead despite "issues that have not been resolved" in his squad.

Asked what he thought about people saying Arsenal could have played the game, the Spaniard said: "We played against Forest [in the FA Cup] when we had 10 players out and we went to Liverpool and we had many players out.

"We have done that and we have played with academy players when we already have the youngest squad in the league.

"Tomorrow if we have everybody available as I suspect we will play the match because we want to play football."

He added: "I think more than hate [being directed towards Arsenal] there is a lot of respect for Arsenal and that comes from the history of the club, how it's always acted and how it has always conducted itself.

"We know we did the right thing. We worked with the Premier League and the FA to make that decision. If anything we've been very honest at least."

Arteta stressed that it was "100 per cent guaranteed" that Arsenal did not have enough players to face Spurs.

Asked if the criticism of the club could be used as a fuel to drive his team, Arteta said: "We will defend our club tooth and nail. We're not going to get anybody damaging our name or trying to spread lies."

Arteta revealed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is back in London and has undergone tests after returning from the Africa Cup of Nations for medical reasons without playing a game.

The Gabon striker had tested positive for COVID-19 on January 6 and was subsequently diagnosed with "heart lesions".

Arteta said: "He's in London and going through some examinations because we haven't had any clarity from Gabon about why he came back.

"So it's our obligation to make sure he's safe and in good condition. So far historically with what we've done with the player that's never been an issue."

Aubameyang has not featured for Arsenal since December 6, having been stripped of the captaincy due to a breach of club rules.

Arsenal and Liverpool played out a goalless draw in the first leg of their EFL Cup tie at Anfield, with Granit Xhaka seeing red in the first half.

Liverpool are proving that they are not just reliant on Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, according to assistant manager Pep Lijnders.

Jurgen Klopp's side are having to do without two of their star attackers, with Salah and Mane on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations with Egypt and Senegal respectively.

Naby Keita is also featuring at the tournament, with the midfielder a talisman for Guinea, who like Senegal have progressed from Group B. Salah's Egypt will guarantee their qualification from Group D with a win over Sudan on Wednesday.

The tournament runs until February 6. Senegal were runners-up in 2019 while Egypt are the most successful team in AFCON history with seven titles, and both are fancied to go far this time around in Cameroon.

Liverpool have been without the trio since just after a draw with Chelsea on January 2, and though they subsequently beat Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup, the absence of Mane and the Premier League's leading scorer Salah was particularly felt in a 0-0 draw with 10-man Arsenal at Anfield in the first leg of the EFL Cup semi-final on January 13.

The Gunners had Granit Xhaka sent off midway through the first half yet Liverpool mustered only one effort on target, with that shot coming in stoppage time, after Takumi Minamino had spurned a glorious chance.

The Reds bounced back with a routine 3-0 win over Brentford on Sunday, with Liverpool having 27 shots (13 on target) and controlling 68 percent of the possession.

Liverpool had 3.1 expected goals against Brentford, the joint-fourth highest total for them in a league game this season, while they have only managed more shots in one top-flight fixture (against Leeds United in September), with their shots-on-target total the most in a single match.

Asked ahead of the second leg against Arsenal how pleased he was with Liverpool's reaction to being without such key players, Lijnders told a news conference: "We did it before. One of the most memorable games [the 4-0 Champions League win over Barcelona in 2019] was without a few of them [Salah and Roberto Firmino].

"When we have our squad, we knew that we needed to have different weapons, create goals from everywhere, dribbles from everywhere, attacks from everywhere, not just based on counter-attacks or the speed of these two boys.

"They are our front line but what I like is we don't just have one weapon, we have so many different ways to attack. How we are evolving as a team, developing with our positional game, it's important and we really like it."

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain stepped up on Sunday, scoring Liverpool's second and playing three key passes, second only to Fabinho (four), though the midfielder will not be available against his former club on Thursday due to an ankle injury sustained against Brentford.

"I spoke with him and he feels okay, it's not that bad," Lijnders explained. "He's hoping that he will make the weekend. Tomorrow will be way too soon. We will assess that day by day."

While Liverpool beat Brentford, Arsenal were not in action on Sunday, with the Premier League having granted the Gunners' request to postpone the north London derby clash with Tottenham due to a COVID-19 case within the squad, though injuries and players away at AFCON were also cited as a reason.

"We had our own experience with this, it's really difficult to judge from the outside," said Lijnders, who had to take charge of the Chelsea clash this month when Klopp was self-isolating due to COVID-19.

"We saw that with our situation. I fully respect the submissions because I trust 100 percent the medical department of each Premier League club. I think this is the most important, the trust in these decisions."

Nick Kyrgios threw in an underarm serve in the second game of his Australian Open campaign, before tossing in a curveball in the post-match news conference.

Speaking after his 6-4 6-4 6-3 win over an outmatched Liam Broady on John Cain Arena, Kyrgios proposed he might play doubles with Novak Djokovic in the future.

Australian Kyrgios has dramatically changed his tune on the Serbian, but not in the way many have altered their perspective following recent events.

Djokovic was deported from Australia in the hours before the Australian Open got under way, a consequence of his own failure to get a COVID-19 vaccine and seemingly mixed messages from authorities before a court settled the kerfuffle.

His behaviour in December after a positive COVID-19 test has been widely criticised, and the reputation of arguably the greatest tennis player of all time has taken a battering in the past fortnight.

Kyrgios recently observed the treatment of Djokovic, a nine-time champion of the Melbourne Park grand slam, had been "really bad" and said it was important to "do better" by the 20-time slam winner.

 

The 26-year-old from Canberra has emerged as an unlikely cheerleader for the player he described as "a tool" and "a very strange cat" last February, after Djokovic was reported to have requested improved quarantine accommodation on arriving in Australia.

Now Kyrgios is revelling in his apparent sudden popularity in Serbia, where Djokovic's banishment from Australia was greeted with anger and dismay.

"I mean, it's great," Kyrgios said of his new standing. He then turned his focus to why he has stood up for his new friend.

"Obviously me and Novak have had some, I guess, differences in the past. But whether it was Novak or someone else, I would have done the same thing," he said.

"I didn't do it because he was Serbian. If it was another player in that scenario, I would have stood up for what I think was right.

"I think it was just coincidentally it was Novak, and, you know, it was quite a story. But we've got a bit of a bromance going on now, so I'm not going to complain.

"I think I'm going to ask him to play doubles somewhere."

It remains to be seen where this might next prove possible. Djokovic might find he needs a vaccination to play the French Open and US Open this year, amid reports an increasing number of tournaments will insist on players being immunised as a condition of entry.

Kyrgios, meanwhile, faced a daunting second-round match in Melbourne, with title favourite and de facto top seed Daniil Medvedev awaiting him.

Kyrie Irving does not feel compelled to change his stance regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, despite the Brooklyn Nets potentially being without Kevin Durant for six weeks.

The seven-time NBA All-Star has refused to be vaccinated against coronavirus and is therefore banned from playing in home games due to New York's vaccine mandate.

Irving was left off the Nets' initial roster for the 2021-22 season, but that decision was reversed last month when the 29-year-old was included as a part-time player.

He has been restricted to four road games so far and has averaged 20 points, which is down on his career average of 22.8.

The Nets could do with Irving more than ever after losing Durant to a knee injury that will keep him out for at least a month, but the point guard is staying rooted to his decision.

"That's what I think comes into a lot of this culture and basketball and sport and entertainment," he said. "You bring in teams and you bring in situations. 

"Kev's going to heal, Kev's going to be okay, and we're going to have to deal with that as his team-mates. 

"But in terms of where I am with my life outside of this, I stay rooted in my decision. And that's just what it is.

"It's not going to be swayed just because of one thing in this NBA life. That somehow it's brought to my attention as being more important than what's going on in the real world. 

"It's just not happening for me. I respect everyone else's decision. I'm not going to try to convince anyone of anything or any of that, I'm just standing rooted in what I believe in. 

"Though we're dealing with this right now with Kev, I know I'm protected by the organisation, by my team-mates, by all the doctors I've talked to. And I just stand rooted."

 

Irving was speaking after leading Brooklyn with 27 points in their 114-107 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday – his best tally since returning to action this month.

The Nets are once again denied the chance to partner star trio James Harden, Durant and Irving, but head coach Steve Nash is hopeful others can step up.

"It's a great opportunity for guys and our team to grow," he said. "We can't rely on Kevin in ways we could, and we have to find ways and solutions to be competitive without him."

The Nets' 'Big Three' have played only 16 games together, going 13-3 across that period.

"It's a great challenge for us," Nash added. "I don't spend time dwelling on it. It wouldn't do us any good. It wouldn't do me any good. 

"It wouldn't do the team any good if the leader of the team is sitting at home contemplating how many games they haven't played.

"That would take me away from being excited and positive to come in every day and try to affect the group positively for these guys to feel empowered and to grow."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's Africa Cup of Nations campaign has finished without him even playing a game as Gabon confirmed he was returning to Arsenal for medical reasons.

Aubameyang tested positive for COVID-19 on January 6, ruling him out of Gabon's Group C opener with the Comoros.

Initially he was expected to return to action for the match against Ghana, which finished 1-1, with Aubameyang addressing the media the day before the game after returning a negative coronavirus test result.

But he was held back on medical grounds after the African Football Confederation (CAF) identified "cardiac lesions" – damage or abnormal change to body tissue – in health checks.

While apparently deemed to be not serious, Gabon have determined the best course of action is to send Aubameyang – and Nice midfielder Mario Lemina, who had a similar diagnosis after also contracting COVID-19 – back to his club for the appropriate medical follow-ups.

A statement read: "The Gabonese Football Federation has decided to put the players Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mario Lemina back at the disposition of their clubs in order for them to follow more in-depth exams."

Aubameyang returns to Arsenal with his future at the club unclear.

The striker was stripped of the captaincy in December after reportedly returning late from a trip abroad, and he was subsequently ostracised from the starting XI.

He did not play again before being allowed to leave early for the AFCON, with Mikel Arteta revealing Gabon's request in that regard had been accepted because Aubameyang was not going to play against Manchester City at the start of the month.

Rafael Nadal believes it would be "better for everybody" if Novak Djokovic was competing at the Australian Open, while declaring the situation a "mess".

Nadal sits level on 20 grand slam titles with Djokovic and Roger Federer but is the only one of tennis' 'Big Three' featuring in Melbourne.

Federer was ruled out due to ongoing knee injury problems, while Djokovic saw his visa cancelled for a second time on Sunday as he appealed Australia's refusal to let him into the country.

That ruling owed to Djokovic's unvaccinated status and Australia's coronavirus guidelines, leaving the Serbian unable to defend his Melbourne Park crown and seek a record-extending 21st grand slam.

Nadal has previously said he was "tired" of talking about the Djokovic saga, but the Spaniard again offered his thoughts after defeating Marcos Giron in the first round on Monday.

"Almost one week ago when he won in the first instance, the case, he was able to get back his visa and practising. I said the justice has spoken," Nadal told reporters.

"If the justice says his visa is valid and he's able to play here, the justice has spoken, so that's the fairest thing, that he deserves to play here. Yesterday the justice said another thing. I will never be against what the justice says.

"Another thing is what I believe personally and what I believe is the ideal situation personally, no?

"The ideal situation in the world of sport is that the best players are on court and playing the most important events. That's better for the sport without a doubt.

"If Novak Djokovic is playing here, it's better for everybody, no doubt about that. Another thing is what happened. As I said in the beginning, I can't say another thing because I believe that the situation is very clear now."

 

Pressed for an answer on his relationship with the 34-year-old world number one, Nadal wished his fellow competitor all the best.

"He's not the only one that did bad things in that case," Nadal added.

"Of course, there are more responsibilities on all for this terrible situation that we faced for the last two weeks. But of course, he is one of those responsible, too.

"So on a personal level, yes, I would like to see him playing here. If it is fair or not that he's playing here is another discussion that I don't want to talk anymore about that."

Nadal advanced to the second round in Melbourne with a cruising 6-1 6-4 6-2 victory over American Giron, who is ranked 66th in the world.

That was Nadal's fourth win of the year after triumphing at the Melbourne Summer Set and he appears to have battled through his foot injury, though he still expressed concerns over his fitness.

"It's been a very challenging few months… tough moments with a lot of doubts – there still are doubts," he said.

"But I am here and I can't be happier to be back in Australia in this amazing stadium.

"You never know when you come back from injury, which unfortunately I have a lot of experience with, how things will be, so you have to take it day by day. You have to forgive yourself if things aren't going the proper way."

Awaiting Nadal in the second round of the tournament will be either Australia's Thanasi Kokkinakis or Yannick Hanfmann of Germany.

Novak Djokovic could make an earlier-than-expected return to Australia despite the Serb facing a three-year ban from the country, according to prime minister Scott Morrison.

The world's number-one ranked player, who is level on 20 grand slam titles with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, saw his visa cancelled for a second time on public health grounds on Sunday.

Djokovic was attempting to overturn the original decision to refuse his entry into Australia, which was due to his unvaccinated status and the country's coronavirus rules.

That leaves the 34-year-old unable to defend his Australian Open title at Melbourne Park, while he was also handed an automatic three-year ban from the country under immigration law, unless Australia's immigration minister overrules the judgement.

Compelling or compassionate reasons would be needed to do so, but Morrison refused to rule out the possibility of Djokovic making an early return.

"I'm not going to precondition any of that or say anything that would not enable the minister to make the various calls he has to make," Morrison said to 2GB Radio on Monday.

"It does go over a three-year period, but there is the opportunity for [a person] to return in the right circumstances, and that will be considered at the time."

 

Morrison then insisted that Djokovic, who has already expressed his disappointment with the ruling, and any other entrant to Australia must comply with their rules.

"If you're someone coming from overseas, and there are conditions for you to enter this country, then you have to comply with them," he continued.

"This is about someone who sought to come to Australia and not comply with the entry rules at our border."

The Australian Open started on Monday, with Nadal advancing past Marcos Giron in his first-round match.

Novak Djokovic's absence from the Australian Open "is a loss for the game", says men's tennis governing body the ATP.

The world number one failed in his bid to overturn a decision from the government to cancel his visa on public health grounds at the Federal Court in Melbourne on Sunday.

Djokovic, who is unvaccinated against COVID-19, will therefore be unable to participate in the Australian Open, where he was seeking a record-extending 10th title.

As the 20-time grand slam winner prepared to fly out of Australia on Sunday, the ATP released a statement reflecting on a "deeply regrettable" saga that lasted 10 days.

"Today's decision to uphold Novak Djokovic's Australian visa cancellation marks the end of a deeply regrettable series of events," the statement read. 

"Ultimately, decisions of legal authorities regarding matters of public health must be respected. 

"More time is required to take stock of the facts and to take the learnings from this situation.

"Irrespective of how this point has been reached, Novak is one of our sport's greatest champions and his absence from the Australian Open is a loss for the game. 

"We know how turbulent the recent days have been for Novak and how much he wanted to defend his title in Melbourne. 

"We wish him well and look forward to seeing him back on court soon. ATP continues to strongly recommend vaccination to all players."

 

Sunday's verdict brings an end to a long-running saga that began when Djokovic was held at an airport in Melbourne when he arrived in the country on January 6.

The 34-year-old won an appeal to overturn the first bid to deport him from the country, but immigration minister Alex Hawke used his powers to again cancel the visa.

That decision was taken amid much backlash in the country, which has strict coronavirus restrictions, and Australian prime minister Scott Morrison backed Sunday's verdict.

"This cancellation decision was made on health, safety and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so," he said.

"I welcome the decision to keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe.

"I thank the court for their prompt attention to these issues and the patience of all involved as we have worked to resolve this issue. 

"It's now time to get on with the Australian Open and get back to enjoying tennis over the summer."

But the unanimous verdict did not go down well with everyone, with Serbian prime minister Aleksandar Vucic launching an attack on Australia for their handling of the matter.

"I talked to Novak and told him I can't wait for him to come to Serbia and return to his country, and to be where he is always welcome," Vucic is quoted as saying by Novosti.

"They think that they humiliated Djokovic, but they humiliated themselves, and he can return to his country and look everyone in the eye with his head held high."

Speaking prior to Sunday's verdict, Rafael Nadal insisted the Australian Open will be a great tournament "with or without" Djokovic.

Other big names have yet to comment on the deportation order, but women's player Alize Cornet feels Djokovic's peers could have offered more support to the Serbian.

"I know too little to judge the situation. What I know is that Novak is always the first one to stand for the players," she posted on Twitter. 

"But none of us stood for him. Be strong, Novak."

Djokovic had been due to face Miomir Kecmanovic in the opening round on Monday but will now be replaced by lucky loser Salvatore Caruso.

The ATP has confirmed that there will be no shuffling of the seeds due to Monday's schedule of playing having been released prior to the court's decision.

Novak Djokovic is "extremely disappointed" to have lost his fight to compete at the Australian Open but "respects" the decision and will not mount fresh legal action.

The world number one learned on Sunday that his second appeal to reinstate his visa had been rejected unanimously by three judges at the Federal Court in Melbourne.

Djokovic, who is not vaccinated against COVID-19, had been due to begin his latest title defence against Miomir Kecmanovic on Monday but will instead now be deported from the country.

While disappointed at the decision, the 20-time grand slam winner will cooperate with the authorities in relation to his departure from the country.

In a statement released shortly after the verdict, Djokovic said: "I will now be taking some time to rest and to recuperate, before making any further comments beyond this.

"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."

 

Sunday's verdict looks set to bring an end to a long-running saga that began when Djokovic was held at an airport in Melbourne when he arrived in the country on January 6.

The 34-year-old won an appeal to overturn the first bid to deport him from the country, but immigration minister Alex Hawke used his powers to again cancel the visa on Friday.

That decision was taken amid much backlash in Australia, which has strict coronavirus restrictions, while some leading players have lamented how the tournament has been overshadowed by the Djokovic drama.

But after losing his latest appeal, the Serbian hopes that all focus can now be on the first grand slam of the year, which begins on Monday.

"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," he added in his statement. 

"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."

Full reasons for the court's ruling will be published "in the coming days".

Djokovic could now be banned from the country for the next three years as that is the punishment that usually comes with a deportation order.

Novak Djokovic's participation in the 2022 Australian Open hangs in the balance with the judges at Sunday's court hearing considering their decision with no exact timeframe on a final call.

Djokovic, who returned to detention on Saturday as per a pre-agreed court arrangement, is fighting to be able to compete at the Australian Open, which starts on Monday.

A Federal Court of Australia procedural hearing was held on Sunday, where lawyers representing Djokovic and Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke presented their cases after the Serbian's visa was cancelled on Friday.

After several hours with both sides arguing their case, chief Justice James Allsop adjourned and said the court may reconvene "this afternoon or perhaps tomorrow morning".

The Australian Open announced Monday's schedule on Sunday afternoon, with Djokovic's first-round match against Miomir Kecmanovic listed as the second in the night session (from 7pm AEDT) on centre court.

At the Sunday hearing, the Immigration Minister's submissions on why Djokovic's visa was cancelled were detailed, pointing to the argument that his presence in Australia may foster sentiment against coronavirus vaccinations.

Djokovic's lawyers argued against the submission, slamming the Minister as "plainly wrong" for assumptions that he was perceived as an anti-vax figurehead and claiming they misrepresented his views on vaccines based on media reports.

Instead, they argued deporting Djokovic could stir up more anti-vaccination sentiment than letting him stay and insisted the Minister did not have enough evidence to make the counter judgement.

The Minister's lawyers reiterated the view that Djokovic's presence would inflame anti-vaccination sentiment and argued that Hawke had considered the outcomes from both decisions.

Mr Stephen Lloyd, representing the Minister, said: "The minister took the view that his presence in Australia could encourage people to emulate [disregard for the rules]."

Mr Lloyd pointed to recent images of Djokovic posing for photos in Serbia after testing positive to COVID-19 last month, when he added: "The applicant has some recent history of ignoring COVID safety measures. Even when he was infected he undertook an interview and a photoshoot including taking his mask off."

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