Australian minister says risk of 'civil unrest' reason behind cancelling Novak Djokovic visa ahead of Australian Open
“I consider that Mr Djokovic’s ongoing presence in Australia may lead to an increase in anti-vaccination sentiment generated in the Australian community, potentially leading to an increase in civil unrest" - Australian minister explains why he cancelled Novak Djokvic's visa ahead of the Australian Open. Djokovic is set to appeal the decision
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And Hawke has now explained in greater detail the decision to cancel Djokovic's visa.
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He said: “I consider that Mr Djokovic’s ongoing presence in Australia may lead to an increase in anti-vaccination sentiment 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.
“Mr Djokovic is … a person of influence and status.
Having regard to … Mr Djokovic’s conduct after receiving a positive Covid-19 result, his publicly stated views, as well as his unvaccinated status, I consider that his ongoing presence in Australia may encourage other people to disregard or act inconsistently with public health advice and policies in Australia.
Hawke also acknowledged the 'significant' ramifications for the tennis player, given that he could be banned from obtaining an Australian visa for three years should the appeal fail.
He added: “Mr Djokovic regularly travels to Australia to compete in tennis tournaments … this visa cancellation … may affect his ability to be granted a visa to enter Australia in the future.”
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Djokovic's legal team have argued the minister took a illogical, irrational, [and] unreasonable approach to… the question of public interest”, and believe that his forced removal would actually incite anti-vaccination sentiment.
They also say that it is a misconception that Djokovic is anti-vaccination despite not being vaccinated.
“The minister cited no evidence that supported his finding that Mr Djokovic’s presence in Australia may ‘foster anti-vaccination sentiment’, and it was not open to the minister to make that finding.”