In a document submitted to the court on Saturday, Djokovic’s lawyer claims that Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s decision 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 this claim is based on just “a few lines of text he said about two years ago”.
Mr Hawke referred to a remark in April 2020 “well before COVID vaccines were available” when Djokovic said he was “against vaccination”, and another incident where the Serb “had previously stated that he would not be forced to would by one taking a fax “to travel or compete in tournaments.
Afterwards, Djokovic’s lawyer said the minister did not consider that the start – up of the athlete “based on a few lines of text he said about two years ago, could also stimulate anti-vaccination sentiment”.
Djokovic’s lawyer also reiterated that the sportsman was “negligible risk” of infection for others, had a medical reason not to vaccinate, came to Australia with substantial documentation, “made no attempt to persuade Australian law, was of good status, and was known for his philanthropic efforts “.
The Minister’s written reasons state that he considers that “Mr Djokovic’s presence in Australia could pose a health risk to the Australian community, as his presence in Australia could stimulate anti-vaccination sentiment”.
The Minister said that this could specifically lead to:
- “An increase in anti-vaccination sentiment is being generated in the Australian community, leading to others refusing to be vaccinated or refusing to receive a booster vaccine.”
- “A reinforcement of the views of a minority in the Australian community who do not remain vaccinated against COVID-19.”
- “People who decide not to receive a booster vaccine.”
- “Unvaccinated individuals become very unwell and / or transmit it to others.”
- “Increased pressure on Australian healthcare system.”
In his reasoning, Mr Hawke also said he considered Djokovic “to have shown apparent contempt for the need to isolate after receiving a positive COVID-19 test result”.
The minister referred to the fact that Djokovic attended an interview and photo shoot with the French magazine The Team on December 18 despite being positively positive for COVID-19.
“Given Mr Djokovic’s high profile status and position as a role model in the sporting and wider community, his continued presence in Australia could foster a similar disregard for the precautionary requirements after receiving a positive COVID-19 rest in Australia.”
It is further stated that Djokovic’s stay 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”.
Regarding the case of Djokovic who falsely stated on his Australia travel declaration form that he had not traveled in the 14 days prior to arrival in Australia, the Minister said that one of Djokovic’s agents had provided a legal statement that the incorrect information her fault was.
The minister said he had assumed the statement was 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 end tomorrow night, ahead of the Australian Open which starts on Monday.