Tennis champion Novak Djokovic, who has been described as a threat to “civil unrest” and a “talisman of anti-vaccination sentiment”, could by no means get the possibility to defend his Australian Open title, dealing with a three-year ban from the nation forward of a last-ditch courtroom problem to remain.

Australia’s immigration minister, Alex Hawke, personally cancelled the unvaccinated world No 1’s visa, arguing his presence in Australia may incite “civil unrest” and encourage others to eschew vaccination in opposition to Covid-19.

Djokovic faces a federal courtroom listening to Sunday morning, Australia time, which can decide whether or not the minister acted unreasonably in rescinding his visa.

Paperwork filed within the courtroom reveal the minister’s causes despatched to Djokovic as justification for cancelling his visa.

Hawke mentioned he accepted Djokovic’s current Covid-19 an infection meant he was a “negligible threat to these round him”, however that he was “perceived by some as a talisman of a group of anti-vaccine sentiment”.

“I contemplate that Mr Djokovic’s ongoing presence in Australia could result in a rise in anti-vaccination sentiment generated within the Australian group, probably resulting in a rise in civil unrest of the type beforehand skilled in Australia with rallies and protests which can themselves be a supply of group transmission.

“Mr Djokovic is … an individual of affect and standing.

“Having regard to … Mr Djokovic’s conduct after receiving a optimistic Covid-19 consequence, his publicly said views, in addition to his unvaccinated standing, I contemplate that his ongoing presence in Australia could encourage different individuals to ignore or act inconsistently with public well being recommendation and insurance policies in Australia.”

Djokovic’s visa was cancelled beneath the extraordinary and broad powers vested within the Australian immigration minister beneath part 133C(3) of Australia’s Migration Act, launched in 2014 when Scott Morrison, the present prime minister, was immigration minister.

Having had a visa cancelled beneath that part, an individual is barred from returning to Australia for 3 years, besides in extraordinary circumstances “that have an effect on the pursuits of Australia or compassionate or compelling circumstances affecting the pursuits of an Australian citizen”.

Hawke mentioned the implications of Djokovic’s visa cancellation had been “vital”.

“Mr Djokovic usually travels to Australia to compete in tennis tournaments … this visa cancellation … could have an effect on his potential to be granted a visa to enter Australia sooner or later.”

If the three-year ban is upheld in opposition to Djokovic, he can be 37 or 38 years outdated earlier than being allowed again into Australia, to compete in a event he has received a report 9 instances.

Djokovic’s authorized staff argued the minister failed to think about that the federal government’s detention of Djokovic and his potential compelled removing from Australia may also incite anti-vaccination sentiment.

In paperwork submitted to the courtroom, attorneys for Djokovic argued the minister took an “illogical, irrational, [and] unreasonable strategy to… the query of public curiosity” and his personal train of ministerial discretion.

“The minister cited no proof that supported his discovering that Mr Djokovic’s presence in Australia could ‘foster anti-vaccination sentiment’, and it was not open to the minister to make that discovering.”

Migration specialists have questioned why, if the Australian authorities held issues Djokovic would encourage anti-vaccination sentiment in Australia, this was not thought of within the authentic determination to grant him a visa on 18 November, or when his visa was first cancelled on the airport.

Djokovic’s remedy has drawn fierce response in Serbia, the place the Belgrade-born participant is a nationwide hero.

Serbia’s president, Aleksandar Vučić, went on social media to denounce “harassment” and a “political witch-hunt” focusing on “one of the best tennis participant on the earth”, whereas the foreign ministry said he had been “lured to Australia to be humiliated”.

The Djokovic visa saga has now run 10 days, a distraction from surging Omicron variant case numbers throughout Australia, a scarcity of exams, shortages of meals and different necessities, and a public well being system beneath acute pressure.

Djokovic arrived in Australia on the night of 5 January. He believed {that a} visa granted on 18 November and an exemption permitted by Tennis Australia’s chief medical officer and a Victorian authorities impartial knowledgeable panel can be enough to enter Australia

After late-night questioning at Melbourne airport, Djokovic’s visa was initially cancelled by a delegate of the house affairs minister final Thursday, on the premise a current Covid an infection by itself was not enough for an exemption from Australia’s strict vaccination necessities.

The delegate concluded that, since he was unvaccinated, Djokovic posed a threat to public well being.

However on Monday, a federal circuit courtroom decide restored Djokovic’s visa, concluding it was unreasonable for the Australian Border Drive to renege on a deal to offer him extra time on the airport to contact his authorized staff and to handle the exemption.

Authorities attorneys instantly put the Australian Open No 1 seed on discover that the immigration minister would contemplate exercising his private energy to once more cancel the visa.

Djokovic confronted a nervous wait, with questions on his journey within the fortnight earlier than arriving in Australia and attendance at occasions after his optimistic Covid analysis on 16 December.

On Wednesday, Djokovic conceded his agent made an “administrative mistake” when declaring he had not travelled within the two weeks earlier than his flight to Australia and acknowledged an “error of judgment” by not isolating after he examined optimistic for Covid. Hawke mentioned these weren’t vital components in his determination to cancel Djokovic’s visa, and he accepted Djokovic’s explanations.

Djokovic is at present in immigration detention in Melbourne. His case can be heard earlier than the federal courtroom Sunday morning Australia time. If he loses, he faces removing from Australia.

The Australian Open begins on Monday.


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