The reasons why Djokovic’s visa was cancelled for a second time
In a document lodged with the court on Saturday, Djokovic’s lawyer claims the decision by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke to cancel the visa on Friday was “illogical, irrational and unreasonable”.
Mr Hawke said Djokovic was “perceived by some as a talisman of a community of anti-vaccination sentiment”.
But Djokovic’s lawyer says that claim is based on just “a few lines of text he said about two years ago”.
Mr Hawke referred to a comment in April 2020 “well before COVID vaccines were available” when Djokovic said he was “opposed to vaccination”, and another incident where the Serbian had “previously stated he wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine” to travel or compete in tournaments.
Subsequently, Djokovic’s lawyer said the minister didn’t consider that booting the sportsman “on the basis of a few lines of text he said about two years ago may also foster anti-vaccination sentiment”.
Djokovic’s lawyer also reiterated that the sportsman was “negligible risk” of infection to others, had a medical reason for not being vaccinated, entered Australia with substantial documentation, “made no attempt to contravene any Australian law, was of good standing, and was known for his philanthropic efforts”.
The minister’s written reasons state that he considers “Mr Djokovic’s presence in Australia may pose a health risk to the Australian community, in that his presence in Australia may foster anti-vaccination sentiment”.
The minister has said this could specifically lead to:
- “An increase in anti-vaccination sentiment being generated in the Australian community, leading to others refusing to become vaccinated or refusing to receive a booster vaccine.”
- “A reinforcing of the views of a minority in the Australian community who remain unvaccinated against COVID-19.”
- “People deciding to not receive a booster vaccine.”
- “Unvaccinated persons becoming very unwell and/or transmitting it to others.”
- “Increased pressure placed on the Australian health system.”
In his reasoning, Mr Hawke has also said he has considered that Djokovic has shown “an apparent disregard for the need to isolate following the receipt of a positive COVID-19 test result”.
The minister has referenced the fact Djokovic attended an interview and photoshoot with French magazine The Team on December 18 despite being knowingly positive for COVID-19.
“Given Mr Djokovic’s high profile status and position as a role model in the sporting and broader community, his ongoing presence in Australia may foster similar disregard for the precautionary requirements following receipt of a positive COVID-19 rest in Australia.”
It has further been said that Djokovic being in Australia could lead to an increased anti-vaccination sentiment in the country, “potentially leading to an increase in civil unrest of the kind previously experienced in Australia with rallies and protests”.
On the issue of Djokovic falsely indicating on his Australia Travel Declaration form that he had not travelled in the 14 days prior to arriving in Australia, the minister said one of Djokovic’s agents has provided a statutory declaration saying the incorrect information was her fault.
The minister said he has assumed the declaration to be true.
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Djokovic’s lawyers will fight these points before the Federal Circuit Court from 9.30am tomorrow, with the hearing expected to finish tomorrow night, ahead of the Australian Open beginning on Monday.