The fate of Novak Djokovic, and whether the world’s top-seeded tennis player would be deported from Australia for being unvaccinated against COVID-19, dominated the headlines in recent weeks but came to a climax after his legal team’s last efforts to secure his right to stay failed.
Reuters was first on the scene to capture the only professional pictures of Djokovic’s final minutes on Australian soil, as the tennis star was marched to the Emirates departure gate at Melbourne airport by two border officials.
The stills – captured by Reuters photographer Loren Elliott – made front pages worldwide and were also used by TV and digital channels in nearly every country.
When the tennis star landed in Dubai on route to Belgrade several hours later, Reuters was also able to shoot and provide large amounts of exclusive video. The footage was delivered to customers well in time for morning news shows, and subsequently headlined on nearly 600 news bulletins. Reuters was the only news agency to capture his final return to Belgrade.
Commenting on the story, Reuters photographer Loren Elliott said: “Covering the Djokovic story entailed twelve days of around the clock coverage. When the order came for his deportation, I rushed to the airport to try and find him. In the end I was able to figure out his whereabouts, photographing him for a brief minute, which resulted in images that went viral.”
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