An Australian The court said Thursday that it rejected the tennis superstar Novak Djokovic’s challenged his visa cancellation when the minister who revoked it reasonably believed in Djokovic, who has not been vaccinated against COVID-19can be a risk to society.
The Federal Court also rejected the argument that there was no evidence that Djokovic had ever urged anyone not to be vaccinated, saying it was open to infer that the public would perceive that he was against vaccinations when he said that he had not been vaccinated.
“An iconic world tennis star can influence people of all ages, young and old, but perhaps especially the young and the impressionable, to emulate him. This is not imaginative; it does not need evidence,” the judges said.
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Djokovic’s saga has sparked a global debate over the rights of people who choose not to be vaccinated as governments seek to protect society from the coronavirus pandemic.
Djokovic was sent off from Australia on Sunday night, hours after the court rejected his attempt to stay in the country to play at the Australian Open, where he hoped to win a record-breaking 21st major title.
It followed an 11-day roller coaster ride with two visa cancellations, two prosecutions and five nights in two stays at an immigration prison hotel where asylum seekers are detained.
His lawyers had argued that the cancellation should be annulled on the grounds that Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s decision was irrational, he lacked evidence that Djokovic’s presence in Australia could provoke anti-vaccination sentiment, and had failed to consider that expulsion of Djokovic could incite the anti-wax mood. .
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The federal court said that although another minister could have decided not to cancel the visa, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke had followed the correct steps under the law, which allow him to cancel a visa, as long as he is satisfied that the visa holder “can be a risk to the health or good order of Australian society ”.
“The minister reached the state of satisfaction on grounds that can not be said to be irrational or illogical or not based on relevant material,” Chief Justice James Allsop and Justices Anthony Besanko and David O’Callaghan said in their reasoning given Thursday.
The court dismissed the case last Sunday after an urgent hearing over the weekend, saying it would release reasons later as it wanted to ensure Djokovic had the decision ahead of the start of the Australian Open the following day.
The Serb is now at risk of missing out on the next tennis Grand Slam event – the French Open – as the country’s sports ministry has said there would be no exception to a new law on vaccine passports approved on Sunday.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Michael Perry)
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