Djokovic judges share reasons for deportation with visa fiasco not blamed
The three judges who ruled to deport Novak Djokovic have disclosed the reasons for doing so citing that the tennis star "might foster anti-vaccination sentiment".
The world number one was sent home just one day before the Australian Open was due to begin following a dramatic saga.
After being detained on two separate occasions, the country’s Federal Court decided the Serbian’s fate after Immigration Minister Alex Hawke's decision to revoke Djokovic's visa a second time.
They highlighted his influence as an iconic tennis star on people of all ages in their reasonings, which have now been made public.
One of the grounds on which Djokovic appealed was that it was unreasonable to portray him as being opposed to the Covid-19 vaccine.
But the judges disagreed, saying: “It was plainly open to the minister to infer that Mr Djokovic had chosen not to be vaccinated because he was opposed to vaccination or did not wish to be vaccinated.
“It was also open to the minister to infer that the public would view his attitude as the media had portrayed: that he was unwilling to be vaccinated.”
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke opted to cancel the 34-year-old’s visa for the second time on 'health and good order grounds'.
Djokovic’s legal team argued there was no evidence for such a view, but the judges replied: “An iconic world tennis star may influence people of all ages, young or old, but perhaps especially the young and the impressionable, to emulate him.
“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.”
The court did rule that Hawke exercised his power regarding the tennis legend’s visa without being ordered to do so.
“There was no requirement upon the minister in exercising his powers… to afford Mr Djokovic natural justice,” said the judges.
“Another person in the position of the minister may have not cancelled Mr Djokovic’s visa. The minister did.”
The Director of the Australian Open Craig Tiley, denied suggestions he paid the Serbian’s legal and travel costs.
“I have seen those reports today and we don’t really go into the detail of any financial arrangements that we have with the players but those reports are simply untrue,” he said.
As well as Djokovic himself, blame has been laid at the door of Tennis Australia for their role in the fiasco.
The governing body secured exemptions from the Victorian Government for unvaccinated individuals to enter Australia, only for at least four individuals to end up being sent home, leading for calls for Tiley to leave his post.
When asked if he would resign, the 60-year-old added defiantly: “No. We’ve put a statement out recently and I’m very focused today delivering a great event.
“I’m proud of what the team has done and proud of what we’ve delivered so far. We’ve had four days of unbelievable tennis and great entertainment and we will continue to have that for the next 10 days.”
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