Novak Djokovic was deported because the Australian immigration minister was reasonable to label him as an anti-vaxxer, court papers have revealed.
The world No.1 was kicked out of Australia on the eve of the first Grand Slam of the season on Sunday.
The Serbian failed to over-turn Alex Hawke’s claim that his continued presence in the country could endanger public health by persuading people not to get vaccinated.
The Government’s lawyer labelled Djokovic as “an icon for antivax groups” .
Chief Justice James Allsop today published the reasons for the decision published on Sunday night – and the judgement acknowledged that the minister’s special powers did not allow Djokovic “natural justice”.
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Djokovic’s defence team had to prove his deportation was “irrational or illogical” – and they claimed the nine-time champion had not been asked about his views on vaccinations.
But the judgement said: ”There was no issue but that Mr Djokovic was not, by January 2022, vaccinated. It was plainly open to the Minister to infer that Mr Djokovic had for over a year chosen not to be vaccinated since vaccines became available.
“That he had a reason not to have a vaccination at the time of the decision in January 2022, apparently having contracted COVID-19 on or about 16 December 2021, did not say anything as to the position for the many months from the availability of vaccines to December 2021.
“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.”
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And the court ruled that the Australian population could be influenced by Djokovic remaining in the country.
“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. It is the recognition of human behaviour from a modest familiarity with human experience.
“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.
“In addition, I consider that Mr Djokovic’s ongoing presence in Australia may lead to an increase in anti-vaccination generated in the Australian community, potentially leading to an increase in civil unrest of the kind previously experienced in Australia with rallies and protests which may themselves be a source of community transmission.”
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