Judges didn't consider 'wisdom' of deporting Novak Djokovic
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Three Australian Federal Court judges on Thursday revealed their reasons for backing a government order to deport tennis star Novak Djokovic, explaining they did not consider the “merits or wisdom of the decision.”
The judges on Sunday unanimously endorsed Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s decision to deport the 34-year-old Serb following an urgent court challenge on the eve of what was to be Djokovic’s first match in defense of his Australian Open title. Djokovic accepted the verdict and flew from Melbourne to the United Arab Emirates hours later.
Chief Justice James Allsop and Justices James Besanko and David O’Callaghan on Thursday released a 27-page explanation of why they rejected Djokovic’s challenge.
“The court does not consider the merits or wisdom of the decision,” the judges said. “The task of the court is to rule upon the lawfulness or legality of the decision.”
"Another person in the position of the minister may have not cancelled Mr. Djokovic’s visa. The minister did,” they added.
Djokovic had his visa revoked at Melbourne’s airport on Jan. 6 hours after arriving because he wasn’t vaccinated against COVID-19. A judge later found that the border officer’s decision to cancel the visa was legally unreasonable and restored it.
But Hawke used his sweeping discretion under the Immigration Act to cancel the visa again on Friday on the broad ground of public interest.
Djokovic was a “high profile unvaccinated individual” whose presence in Melbourne “may foster anti-vaccination sentiment” and increase pressure on the health system, Hawke said in his 10-page decision to revoke the visa.
Hawke had rejected Djokovic’s arguments that his deportation would appear to be “politically motivated decision-making” that could jeopardize...