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Novak Djokovic statement expected as key sponsors speak out after Australian Open chaos

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NOVAK DJOKOVIC could lose some of his prestigious sponsorships in the wake of his Australian Open visa fiasco, after it was revealed the world No 1 made public appearances while being infected with Covid.

Novak Djokovic will likely break his silence over his deportation after the Australian Open, reports say. The world No 1 was kicked out of the country on the eve of the tournament after losing an appeal hearing to have his visa cancellation quashed for a second time. One of his main sponsors has now hinted that their deal could be in trouble depending on the Serb’s impending statement on the situation.

Djokovic was embroiled in an 11-day saga after arriving in Australia for the season-opening Grand Slam with a medical exemption granted by Tennis Australia.

He had his visa cancelled at the border but won an appeal hearing to have it reinstated after the federal government conceded they were unfair in their treatment of the world No 1 when revoking his visa.

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But Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used his personal ministerial powers to cancel his visa for a second time and the 20-time Major champion was unsuccessful in his Federal Court appeal, as the judges agreed with Mr Hawke’s claim that Djokovic’s presence in the country could “excite anti-vax sentiment”.

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The decision was made based on several incidents, including the Serb’s admission that he knowingly attended an interview with L’Equipe magazine while infected with Covid on December 18, having taken a positive PCR test two days prior.

The 34-year-old had also appeared at a children’s tennis event on December 17, posing for photos and handing out awards unmasked, but claimed he did not receive his positive test result until after.

It meant that the defending Australian Open champion was booted out on the eve of the tournament, and immediately after the Federal Court decision he released a statement saying: “I will now be taking some time to rest and to recuperate, before making any further comments beyond this.

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“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.”

Djokovic is now expected to break his silence for the first time since departing Australia once the Grand Slam tournament is over, as one of his biggest sponsors has spoken out in the wake of the fallout

The CEO of one of Djokovic’s luxury sponsors, Swiss watch maker Hublot, has commented on the situation for the first time and said he thought everyone should have the freedom to make their own decision about the vaccine.

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“We are waiting to see what his position is with regard to all that he went through,” Ricardo Guadalupe said.

“The principle of vaccines is that it’s something private. We value personal freedom, everyone can decide, one can be in favour or against, that’s our position.”

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But he hinted that the brand could still cease their partnership with Djokovic, saying they were yet to make a final decision

The Hublot CEO believes Djokovic will make a statement at the conclusion of the Australian Open, which ends on Sunday.

He added: “We will define our position then.”

It comes after the world No 1’s clothing sponsor Lacoste said they were looking to communicate with Djokovic following the saga in Melbourne.

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“As soon as possible, we will be in touch with Novak Djokovic to review the events that have accompanied his presence in Australia,” the heritage brand said in a statement last week.