Posted: Sunday, January 16, 2022. 12:03 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Tennis star Novak Djokovic was deported from Australia earlier on Sunday after losing a court challenge against the cancellation of his visa on health and good order grounds, the BBC reports.
Dominican attorney Cabral Douglas, son of late Prime Minister Rosie Douglas, said in an audio message that Djokovic faced an uphill battle to stay in the country and defend his Australian Open title as he is not vaccinated against COVID-19, which he caught in December.
Douglas said the case had brought the “drama” surrounding COVID-19 and vaccination “to a head,” observing that the initial grant of a visa on a medical exemption which was later overturned twice was considered “a slap in the face” of Australians who have endured lockdowns and near-mandatory vaccination, only to see a star “overcome and skirt the system.”
The court was asked to rule, said Douglas, on “a very narrow legal question…under the principles of judicial review whether the Minister acted irrationally or unreasonably and given the background and the context of what was taking place leading up to the decision as it relates to Australia, COVID-19, vaccinations, etcetera, it could not be said that the Minister acted irrationally or unreasonably; as a result of that the court was asked to act within its powers, limited as they were in this matter, and uphold the Minister’s decision, which is what led to Novak Djokovic’s deportation from Australia.”
The BBC said Djokovic said he was “extremely disappointed” but accepted the ruling. He has left on a flight to Dubai. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed “the decision to keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe” but his government faces criticism at home and abroad for its handling of the affair.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that among those critics is the former member of Australian parliament Craig Kelly who described Djokovic as a “political prisoner” of the Morrison government, and deplored the decision as embarrassing and shameful for the country and indicative of a “vindictiveness and spitefulness” that was not “part of the Australian character.” Kelly was addressing an anti-vaccination rally in Hyde Park, Sydney, on Saturday.
The decision has called into question Djokovic’s status as he pursues his quest for the most tennis Grand Slam titles of all time; the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open are all played in countries and states requiring or encouraging vaccination.
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