Aussie govt. says allowing Djo...


Aussie govt. says allowing Djokovic to stay will encourage anti-vaxxers

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The Australian government has argued that allowing Novak Djokovic to stay in the country will embolden those with anti-vaccine sentiments. 

The men's tennis no.1 is to be interviewed by Border Force officials on Saturday morning, Melbourne time, as he fights to stay in the country for a second time.

Djokovic had his visa cancelled on Friday morning by immigration minister, Alex Hawke. He made the decision "on health and good order grounds". 

The Serb is due to discover his ultimate fate - which could include a three-year exclusion from Australia - in Federal Court on Sunday.

The decision will come barely 24-hours before Djokovic is due to begin the defence of his Australian Open title against compatriot, Miomir Kecmanovic.

While the government are not arguing that Djokovic personally poses a health risk - despite his decision not to be vaccinated - they say his mere presence in the country poses a risk.

The Age report that the 20-time Grand Slam champion staying in the country will serve only to encourage anti-vaxxers.

In his official reasoning for barring Djokovic, Hawke described him as a “high profile un-vaccinated individual”, before adding, "Given Mr Djokovic’s high-profile status and position as a role model in the sporting and broader community, his ongoing presence in Australia may foster similar disregard for the precautionary requirements following receipt of a positive COVID-19 test in Australia.

"In particular, his behaviour may encourage or influence others to emulate his prior conduct and fail to comply with appropriate health measures following a positive COVID-19 test, which itself could lead to the transmission of the disease and serious risk to their health and others."

Hawke added, "Mr Djokovic is such a person of influence and status. Having regard to the matters set out above regarding Mr Djokovic’s conduct after receiving a positive COVID-19 result, his publicly stated views, as well as his un-vaccinated status, I consider that his ongoing presence in Australia may encourage other people to disregard or act inconsistently with public health advice and polices in Australia.

"In addition, I consider that Mr Djokovic’s ongoing presence in Australia may lead to an increase in anti-vaccination sentiment generated in the Australian community, potentially leading to an increase in civil unrest of the kind previously experienced in Australia with rallies and protests which may themselves be a source of community transmission.”

Hawke concluded that, "These matters go to the very preservation of life and health of many members of the general community and further are crucial to the maintaining the health system in Australia, which is facing increasing strain in the current circumstances of the pandemic.”

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