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Topline

Australia’s Immigration Minister Alex Hawke was not “irrational or illogical” in suggesting that Novak Djokovic was opposed to vaccination and this stance by an “iconic tennis star” could influence people of all ages, a ruling issued by the judges who upheld the minister’s decision to cancel the Serbian tennis player’s visa said.

Key Facts

Details of the judgment unanimously issued by a three member bench, including Federal Court Chief Justice James Allsop, were revealed Thursday, outlining the reasons behind the ruling last week.

In their ruling the judges noted that under Australia’s Migration Act, Hawke only needed to be satisfied that Djokovic’s presence in Australia may be a risk to the health and safety of the Australian public.

The judges dismissed arguments made by Djokovic’s lawyers—that the minister could not definitively say that Djokovic was anti-vaccine—by noting the tennis star made a  statement in 2020 that he was “opposed to vaccines”.

They said it was not irrational of the minister to be concerned as a result of that statement.

The judges also noted that the minister could openly infer Djokovic’s stance on vaccines by the fact that the 20-time grand slam winner had chosen not to get the shot a year after they had become available.

The judges added that it was not “fanciful” of the minister to believe Djokovic’s stance on vaccines could have an impact as an “iconic world tennis star” may influence people of all ages, especially the young and the impressionable, to emulate him.

Crucial Quote

“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 judges said in their ruling.

Key Background

Djokovic was forced to leave Australia on Sunday following a nearly two-week saga surrounding the unvaccinated star’s eligibility to remain in the country and compete in the Australian Open. Under Australian immigration law, Djokovic cannot be granted a visa for the next three years unless Australia’s immigration minister agrees on compelling or compassionate grounds. However, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison indicated that this ban can be waived under “the right circumstances.”

Tangent

According to a Reuters report published on Wednesday, Djokovic and his wife are majority owners of a Danish biotechnology firm researching a treatment for Covid-19. The tennis star and his wife Jelena Djokovic, purchased an 80% stake in QuantBioRes in June 2020 for an undisclosed amount. The company’s website suggests it is using “Resonant Recognition Model” (RRM) technology to develop Covid-19 treatments.

Further Reading

Federal Court reveals why it upheld decision to send Novak Djokovic home (Sydney Morning Herald)

After Australia, Here’s Which Grand Slam Tournaments Djokovic Can – And Can’t – Play (Forbes)

Source: Forbes – Business

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