The Australian Federal Court has decided to expel Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic from the country, who has not been vaccinated against covid-19 and opposes mandatory immunization. The tennis number one will not be able to participate in the Australian Open. The Serbian tennis player thus loses the appeal against the government’s decision to revoke his visa for the second time. The decision has been made unanimously by the three judges of the Federal Court, which addressed this Sunday in a virtual hearing the appeal presented by Djokovic’s defense. Under the law, the tennis player also faces a three-year ban on returning to the country, except in certain exceptions, which may include “compelling circumstances affecting Australia’s interests.”
“I am extremely disappointed with the Court’s ruling to dismiss my application for judicial review of the Minister’s decision to cancel my visa, which means that I cannot stay in Australia and participate in the Australian Open,” said the tennis player in a statement. release collected by the Australian newspaper The Age. “I respect the Court’s ruling and will cooperate with the relevant authorities regarding my departure from the country.”
The Australian authorities had arrested Djokovic this Saturday, in what had been the penultimate chapter of this anti-vaccine, media and judicial soap opera, in full increase in omicron infections in the country. The Serbian tennis player had spent the last few hours at the Park Hotel in Melbourne, which serves as an immigration detention center, awaiting the trial that was held urgently this Sunday early in the morning in Australia.
The number one in world men’s tennis arrived in Australia on January 5. That same, the country’s customs service interrogated him for six hours at the airport, where they revoked his visa on the grounds that “he did not provide adequate evidence to meet the requirements for entry into Australia.” The Border Force then transferred him to a detention center for illegal immigrants, the same Hotel Park where he has spent the last few hours, thus beginning a conflict that escalates from the health to the diplomatic, with crossed accusations between the Serbian presidents, Aleksandar Vucic, who denounced a “political hunt” and accused the government of “mistreating and humiliating” the tennis player, and the Australian, Scott Morrison, who assured that “no one is above the rules.” “He is free to leave at any time,” came the Australian Interior Minister, Karen Andrews, who had to explain that the Serb was not “captive” in the country.
On January 8, the tennis player’s lawyers presented in the file the evidence that Djokovic had tested positive for coronavirus in mid-December, which would exempt him from being vaccinated, for which they requested his transfer to a center where he can train to prepare the Australian Open. Two days later, the Federal Circuit Court upheld the tennis player’s claims to play the tournament and ordered his release. “I am happy and grateful that the judge has annulled the cancellation of my visa. Despite everything that has happened, I want to stay and try to compete in the Australian Open,” the tennis player wrote on twitter.
After the ruling of this Court, the representative of the Australian Executive, Christopher Tran, already warned that the Immigration Minister, Alex Hawke, had the power to cancel Djokovic’s visa. “It remains within Minister Hawke’s power to cancel Djokovic’s visa under his personal power of cancellation under section 133C(3) of the immigration law. The minister is currently considering the matter and the process remains open,” the lawyer said.
A danger to the country
Thus, Hawke used his powers to revoke the visa again and begin the process of expulsion from the country in favor of “public interest” and “for reasons of health and order.” Although he admitted that the risk of the tennis player infecting someone was “insignificant”, because he had just come out of an infection, the minister justified that his presence in the country and his clearly anti-vaccine position could cause “riots” among those who follow him for reasons extra-sports “Their presence may cause an increase in anti-vaccine sentiment in the Australian community, which could lead to an increase in civil unrest such as has already been experienced in Australia,” said the head of Immigration.
“The pandemic has been very difficult for the people of Australia but we have stood together and saved lives. Together we have managed to have one of the lowest mortality rates, one of the strongest economies and one of the highest vaccination rates in Australia. the world. Australians have made many sacrifices during the pandemic and they have a right to expect that the outcome of those sacrifices will be protected.”
Added to this judicial chronology is the investigation by the Australian authorities of a lie by Djokovic on the form to enter the country. In the travel declaration document where it was asked if the person had made any trips during the last 14 days, the tennis player checked the “no” box. Finally, he acknowledged “human errors” that he attributed to his agent, when it was discovered that he had spent Christmas in Belgrade and then had moved to Spain to train, before traveling to Melbourne, with a stopover in Melbourne.