The reasons for the judgment, published this afternoon, stated the court does not “consider the merits or wisdom” of the decision, nor does it “remake the decision”.
“The task of the Court is to rule upon the lawfulness or legality of the decision by reference to the complaints made about it,” the judgment read.
The court judgment stated the Immigration Minister may cancel a visa if “he or she is satisfied that presence of its holder in Australia may be a risk to the health or good order of the Australian community”.
Mr Hawke reached a “state of satisfaction” to cancel the tennis star’s visa on grounds that cannot be deemed as “irrational or illogical or not based on relevant material”, the judgment said.
“Whether or not others would have formed that state of satisfaction and the state of satisfaction as to the public interest is a consideration not to the point,” it read.
The Federal Court judges also found it was reasonable for Mr Hawke to conclude Djokovic was opposed to vaccination.
The tennis star’s lawyers had argued the minister had failed to ask about Djokovic’s views on the topic.
“We reject the proposition that it was not open to the Minister to find or conclude that Mr Djokovic had a stance that was well-known on vaccination and that he was opposed to it,” the judgment read.
“Further, there was no issue but that Mr Djokovic was not, by January 2022, vaccinated.
“It was plainly open to the Minister to infer that Mr Djokovic had for over a year chosen not to be vaccinated since vaccines became available.
“That he had a reason not to have a vaccination at the time of the decision in January 2022, apparently having contracted COVID-19 on or about 16 December 2021, did not say anything as to the position for the many months from the availability of vaccines to December 2021.
“It was plainly open to the Minister to infer that Mr Djokovic had chosen not to be vaccinated because he was opposed to vaccination or did not wish to be vaccinated.”
The judgment stated even if Djokovic did not win the Australian Open, his presence in Australia playing tennis could foster “anti-vaccination” sentiment among people who wanted to emulate him.
“The capacity of his presence in Australia playing tennis to encourage those who would emulate or wish to be like him is a rational foundation for the view that he might foster anti-vaccination sentiment,” it read.
“An iconic world tennis star may influence people of all ages, young or old, but perhaps especially the young and the impressionable, to emulate him.”
Following the ruling on Sunday, Djokovic issued a statement saying he was “extremely disappointed” by the Federal Court’s rejection of his appeal, which ended his hope to play in the Australian Open.