Djokovic loses visa appeal and faces deportation

Novak Djokovic has lost his judicial review over the cancellation of his Australian visa and is due to be deported from the country.

Chief Justice James Olsop’s ruling follows a unanimous decision by the three justices who heard the case in federal court on Sunday.

The decision, barring further legal action, means the nine-times champion Djokovic will not defend his title at the Australian Open, which begins on Monday, and may not be able to travel to Australia for three years.

The three justices deliberated for just over two hours before Chief Justice Allsop issued the ruling before 6pm (7am Irish time) in Melbourne after hearing submissions from both parties earlier in the day.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawk revoked Djokovic’s visa for the second time on Friday, using his personal powers after the world number one won an appeal against the initial decision to ban him from leaving the country upon his arrival last week.

Djokovic, who spent another night at the Park Hotel on Saturday, was due to face compatriot Miomir Kekmanovic on Monday and will now be replaced in the draw by a lucky loser.

Hook’s decision Friday was unexpectedly based not on the validity or invalidity of Djokovic’s exemption from the Covid-19 vaccination, which was the reason for the initial cancellation, but on the idea that his presence in the country could fuel anti-vaccination sentiment, making him a public health risk, As well as civil unrest.

To succeed on the appeal, Djokovic’s legal team had to prove that Hawke either acted outside its powers or that his decision was irrational, and Chief Justice Allsopp asserted that the judges were unable to assess the merits of the case.

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Nick Wood, on behalf of the Serbian, focused on three aspects – that there was no evidence that his presence would fuel anti-vaccination sentiment, that the evidence was also lacking in the idea that Djokovic was against vaccination and that Hook had not considered whether relaying the nine-time Australian Open champion would That leads to increased support for the cause of anti-vaccination.

Wood said: «Not a single line of evidence in the material provided any definitive or logical basis whatsoever that the mere presence of Mr. Djokovic in Australia per se might somehow reinforce anti-vaccination sentiment.»

Djokovic made global headlines early in the pandemic, with him being quoted as saying he was «against vaccination», although he later made clear that he was against being forced to take a vaccine to travel to tournaments and that he would remain open to the issue.

Wood criticized Hook for not referring to this clarification, while arguing in response to the initial cancellation of the visa, which involved police spraying Djokovic supporters in the street, and showing that his deportation could have a negative impact on public health and public order instead. from the opposite.

«The clearest and most attractive window through which error can be viewed is the public interest lens,» he said. «It is illogical or unreasonable to look at just one side of the coin.»

Hawke’s attorney Stephen Lloyd spent a significant amount of time countering this argument.

«The minister was aware that his decision to cancel would lead to a certain level of disruption, but the minister was fundamentally concerned that Mr Djokovic’s presence would encourage people to emulate his situation and that would put the health of Australians at risk,» Lloyd said.

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On the question of whether it was fair to present Djokovic as an anti-vaccination stance, Lloyd said: «His current unvaccinated state is open to the conclusion that someone in the applicant’s position could have been vaccinated if they wanted to.

«Even before vaccines were available, he was against it – his ostensible position was to oppose it.»

He referred to anti-vaccination groups «treating the applicant like a hero» as he turned to Hook’s central claim that Djokovic’s presence could negatively affect public health.

Lloyd said: «He is an outstanding person and in many respects he is a role model for many people. His presence in Australia will give Australians his anti-vaccination views even more strongly.

«People use high-profile athletes to promote ideas and causes all the time. His relationship to an issue, whether he likes it or not, is still there.»

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