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Aus. court: Djokovic visa canceling was rational

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An Australian court said on Thursday (January 20) it dismissed Novak Djokovic's challenge to his visa cancelation, because the minister who revoked it reasonably believed the unvaccinated tennis superstar could be a risk to the community.

Djokovic was deported from Australia on Sunday night (January 16) hours after the court's decision.

He'd hoped to win a record 21st major title at the Australian Open.

Djokovic's saga has fueled global debate over the rights of people who opt not to get vaccinated.

Greg Barns, spokesperson for the Australian Lawyers Alliance:

"We weren't surprised because the minister has this god-like power and because it's so broad. WHITE FLASH ..what it shows is that when it comes to visa holders, they are vulnerable to a minister exercising their powers personally."

The Federal Court also rejected the argument there was no evidence that Djokovic had ever urged anyone not to get vaccinated, saying the public could perceive that he was opposed to vaccination, given he had not been vaccinated.

'An iconic world tennis star may influence people of all ages,' the judges said, 'this is not fanciful, it does not need evidence.'

Djokovic's stay in Australia was an 11-day rollercoaster involving two visa cancelations, two court challenges and a total of five nights at an immigration detention hotel.

His lawyers argued that Immigration Minister Alex Hawke's decision was irrational, he lacked evidence that Djokovic's presence in Australia may stoke anti-vaccination sentiment, and had failed to consider that deporting Djokovic might inflame anti-vax feeling.

The Federal Court said Hawke is allowed to cancel a visa as long as he is satisfied the holder, quote, "may be a risk to the health or good order of the Australian community".

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