Sydney, Australia, Jan 16 (EFE).- The Australian government Sunday alleged that Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic had a history of ignoring anti-coronavirus measures as a court began hearing his visa cancellation case.
“Even when infected, he undertook an interview and had received a positive test he undertook an interview and a photo-shoot which included taking his mask off,” said lawyer Stephen Lloyd, representing Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke.
The lawyer was referring to sports icon’s admission that he went for an interview with the French outlet L’Equipe in Belgrade on Dec.18, knowing that he had tested positive for Covid-19.
The highly-anticipated hearing came hours before the Australian Open begins Monday.
World No.1 Djokovic hopes to defend his title and become the first to secure the 21st Grand Slam title.
Lloyd said the minister canceled Djokovic’s visa, considering that his presence in Australia would encourage others to emulate his actions.
Hawke justified the visa cancellation decision, saying his presence in Australia posed a “risk to public health and order” and could fuel “anti-vaccine sentiment.”
“There only needs to be a skerrick of evidence and there is not only a multitude of skerricks but a multitude of evidence,” Lloyd said.
“If you were going to see that his anti-vax views have any traction, you would see it in Serbia. In his home country, it is estimated that under half the population is fully-vaccinated.”
The lawyer said his latest views on vaccination would not have altered his previous stand and the impressions among the Australian community.
Earlier, Djokovic’s lawyer Nicholas Wood insisted that the minister did not adequately weigh the impact of the decision to deport him on anti-vaccine activists, considering that the reason for canceling his visa is ” illogical” and “irrational.”
Wood pointed out that the minister did not have enough evidence to show that the presence of Djokovic could fuel anti-vaccine sentiment in Australia.
Wood stressed the “only evidence” that could connect Djokovic with anti-vaccine protests was an article by BBC about the anger over the cancellation of his visa.
“The sole evidentiary foundation identified by the minister that ‘groups opposed to vaccination supported Djokovic’s presence in Australia’ is absent.”
He said it was “indicative of error.”
Djokovic entered the country on Jan.5 with a medical exemption for not being vaccinated, citing recovery from a recent Covid-19 infection.
The immigration authorities canceled his visa and detained him until his release on Monday for a court order considering that he was not treated fairly. EFE