In ruling in favor of the Australian government’s decision to revoke the visa of Novak Djokovic, the panel of three judges who oversaw the case reasserted the broad authority of the country’s immigration minister and found that he had acted in a way that was both reasonable and rational, according to the ruling released on Thursday.
The court’s decision, which extinguished Mr. Djokovic’s chance of winning a record 21st men’s Grand Slam title in Melbourne this year, concluded a volatile saga that prompted debate over immigration law, celebrity entitlement and vaccinations.
The ruling, released by the Federal Court of Australia, was the first public statement of the court’s reasoning.
“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,” the panel of three judges found. “This is not fanciful; it does not need evidence.”
The court noted the broad authority of the immigration minister, Alex Hawke, to control entry into the country and found he was well within his rights to cancel Mr. Djokovic’s visa on the grounds of “health and good order.”
The legal question, the judges said, was not whether Mr. Djokovic actually posed a risk to health, safety and good order to the country, but whether Mr. Hawke was “satisfied” that his presence in the country might amount to one.
Once held up as an example of how nations could keep Covid cases low, Australia is now tackling its most severe surge since the pandemic began.
Ultimately, Mr. Hawke’s reasons for revoking the visa — in part, that Mr. Djokovic’s position as a sporting role model who chose to remain unvaccinated against Covid-19 could “foster anti-vaccination sentiment” — were not “irrational or illogical or not based on relevant material,” the three judges said.
Though Mr. Hawke did not have to provide his reasons for canceling Mr. Djokovic’s visa, the judgment said they were “carefully drafted,” and showed that he had exercised the discretionary power lawfully.
“Another person in the position of the minister may have not canceled Mr. Djokovic’s visa,” the judges wrote. “The minister did.”