Novak Djokovic's lawyers claim Serb's visa was canceled on basis his presence could "excite anti-vax sentiment"

The World No. 1 has medical contraindications to COVID-19 vaccines according to his lawyers
The World No. 1 has medical contraindications to COVID-19 vaccines according to his lawyers

Novak Djokovic's visa was canceled for a second time by the Australian government on Friday. A hearing was convened later in the day, during which the Serb's lawyers claimed that the decision was made on the basis that the World No. 1's presence might "excite anti-vaccination sentiment" in the country.

Djokovic landed in Melbourne last week with a medical exemption, but was detained at the airport and had his visa revoked by Australian Border Force officials. His visa was subsequently canceled, but his lawyers filed an injunction. On Monday, Judge Kelly found that there were "procedural errors" in the cancelation process, thereby reinstating the World No. 1's visa.

Minister for Immigration Alex Hawke, however, canceled the Serb's visa yet again on Friday on "the basis that it was in the public interest to do so." A decision hearing was subsequently conducted, where Judge Kelly once again presided over the World No. 1's case against Hawke in court.

During the hearing, court reporter Karen Sweeney quoted Djokovic's lawyer Nicholas Wood as saying Hawke's decision was "patently irrational."

Wood: "We are where we are because of the time the minister has taken. We are moving as fast as we can."He's keen to be sure there's a result in court that would ensure if Djokovic's successful he can play Monday night.
He says the minister only considers the potential for "exciting anti-vax sentiment" if Djokovic is allowed to remain in Australia. But he says the minister gives no consideration to the effect forcing Djokovic out of the country would have. He says that's "patently irrational".

Novak Djokovic's lawyers claim he has "medical contraindications" to vaccination

During the decision hearing, Wood also asserted that his client should not be deported, arguing that he was not a danger to public health.

The lawyer then insisted that Djokovic was a "high-profile person with a medical contraindication to COVID-19 vaccines". Wood also claimed that the Serb was a "negligible risk" to the local public and a man of "good standing."

He says Djokovic is a high profile person with medical contraindication to vaccination who is of "negligible risk" and of good standing.

According to guidelines published by the Australian Department of Health, contraindications to vaccines include inflammatory cardiac illness within the past three months, acute rheumatic fever, a history of anaphylaxis, or a generalized allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine.

Having said that, it is theoretically unlikely that the World No. 1, who almost completed a Calendar Grand Slam last year, would be suffering from any of these acute major medical conditions. The Serb, who is unvaccinated, received his exemption on the basis of a recent positive COVID-19 test.

As things stand, Djokovic is set to appear for an interview with immigration officials at 8 am local time on Saturday. His visa hearing is expected to take place on Sunday.

If the Serb does not have his visa reinstated, he will not be allowed to compete at the 2022 Australian Open. He is currently scheduled to face Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round on Monday.

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Edited by Arvind Sriram
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