Federal Court publishes reasons for upholding Novak Djokovic’s visa cancellation

Under section 116 of the Act, the minister is able to cancel a visa if “the presence of the visa holder in Australia is… may be, or might be, a risk to the health, safety or good order of the Australian community or a segment of it”. 

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The justices found it was “open to infer that it was perceived by the public that Mr Djokovic was not in favour of vaccinations”. 

They noted that Djokovic’s views in regards to vaccination “were expressed and publicly known even before there was a COVID-19 vaccine”. 

They referred to a BBC article in which Djokovic was quoted in April 2020 as saying he was “opposed” to vaccination but that he would keep an “open mind”. 

The justices said 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”. 

Novak Djokovic has been deported.

Source: Source: 13 Jan 2022 Mike Frey/AFP/Getty Images)

They also said, “there was evidence that Mr Djokovic had recently disregarded reasonable public health measures overseas by attending activities unmasked while COVID positive”. 

The justices argued it was common sense that “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,” they added. 

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The justices deemed it was not a long shot for the minister to conclude that Djokovic’s presence in Australia could spark anti-vaccine demonstrations. 

“Mr Djokovic is a hero and an icon of freedom of choice in relation to being vaccinated,” they said.

“It was not irrational for the Minister to be concerned that support of some anti-vaccination groups … may encourage rallies and protests that may lead to heightened community transmission.”

It comes after the court delivered its initial judgement on Sunday, ruling in the minister’s favour and ordering him to pay the government’s legal costs.

Mr Hawke decided to cancel Djokovic’s visa for a second time last Friday, sparking the Federal Court hearing on Sunday.

He said he cancelled the visa over concern that Djokovic as a “high profile unvaccinated individual” could “foster anti-vaccine sentiment” and “civil unrest” if he was allowed to stay in Australia.

Djokovic spent a short time detained in Melbourne’s Park Hotel where 32 asylum seekers and refugees have been locked up for more than eight years by the federal government.

Djokovic was released from detention following Sunday’s court hearing and deported to Serbia.

In a statement, he said he was “extremely disappointed” by the Federal Court’s decision to uphold his visa cancellation.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also issued a statement welcoming the Court’s decision to keep Australia’s “borders strong” and Australians “safe”.

“It’s now time to get on with the Australian Open and get back to enjoying tennis over the summer,” he said.

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