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Djokovic lawyers tell Australian court his presence doesn’t prompt anti-vax protests

Djokovic is appealing Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s use of discretionary powers to cancel his visa



Serbia's Novak Djokovic wears a face mask as he arrives at the Lawyer's office ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne. — AFP
Serbia's Novak Djokovic wears a face mask as he arrives at the Lawyer's office ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne. — AFP

By Reuters

Published: Sun 16 Jan 2022, 4:09 AM

Novak Djokovic’s lawyers told a court that will decide whether or not he can stay in Australia and defend his Open title there was no evidence to show the presence of the world’s number one tennis player had prompted anti-vaccine protests elsewhere.

After a rollercoaster 10 days in the country that saw the Serbian champion detained by immigration authorities, released and then detained again, his fate was in the hands of three Federal Court judges on Sunday.

Djokovic is appealing Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s use of discretionary powers to cancel his visa again on the grounds that he was a threat to public order because his presence would encourage anti-vaccination sentiment.

Nick Wood, acting for Djokovic, pointed to how the player competed in the Australian Open and other major tournaments around the world last year without provoking protests or unrest from anti-vaccination supporters.

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“If there was any foundation for thinking that Mr Djokovic’s presence and participation at a tennis tournament might somehow lead to this anti-vax sentiment, one would expect that it would be supported by some kind of evidence about anti-vax protests or rallies or the like at tennis events,” Wood said.

But Wood told the court that nothing of the kind had been identified by the minister in his decision to cancel the visa.

Wood said that instead the possibility was a forced removal of Djokovic may spur the anti-vaccination movement and protests.

Djokovic had earlier been escorted from a detention hotel for asylum seekers by Australian immigration officers, about 8.30am local time and taken to his lawyers’ offices to attend the virtual court hearing.


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