Australia, now an international embarrassment

Djokovic boarded a flight at Melbourne airport on Sunday.

It was only last week a judge overturned the cancelation of
Novak Djokovic’s visa upon arriving in Australia, but the government stepped in last Friday to revoke the visa yet again, saying it was in the public interest.

Djokovic was originally granted a medical exemption to enter Australia by two different independent health panels: one commissioned by Tennis Australia, and the other by the state government of Victoria, after testing positive for coronavirus in mid-December. However, the Australian Border Force detained him on 5 January for not meeting federal coronavirus requirements, and his visa was revoked.

Djokovic is not vaccinated against Covid-19, and he has not actively promoted anti-vax disinformation. However, Australian pro-health protestors have been using the hashtag #IStandWithDjokovic on social media, and we hope he gets the justice he deserves.

The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison stated that the tennis star had failed to comply with “the rules”, to enter Australia that “you either have to be vaccinated or you have to have a valid medical exemption and show evidence of it”.

The prime minister told 2GB radio:

“It’s as simple as that, this is about someone who sought to come to Australia and not comply with the entry rules at our border. That’s what this is about.”

The health minister, Greg Hunt, also argued on Monday that Djokovic’s medical exemption “wasn’t valid”.

Why was the challenge rejected?

Djokovic launched his case after Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used his powers to cancel his visa, arguing his presence in the country risked fanning anti-vaccine sentiment.

During Sunday’s court hearing before a three-judge panel, Djokovic’s defence unsuccessfully argued that the grounds given by the government were illogical because to deport the star also risked fanning anti-vaccine sentiment.

Chief Justice James Allsop said the court ruling was based on the legality of the minister’s decision, not on whether it was the right decision to make.

The federal government has repeatedly said people must comply with the strict laws in place to deal with the pandemic, and that no-one is “above the law”.

Morrison left open the possibility that Djokovic might be allowed back into Australia at some point over the next three years, but will the Tennis star entertain the idea again to return after this emotional ordeal.