Djokovic lawyer argues anti-vax sentiments in Australia are a result of 'coercive action by the state,' like canceling the tennis star's visa
Novak Djokovicwas detained again after Australiawithdrew his visa for the second time.
- Australian officials said he posed a health risk and could embolden anti-vax groups.
An attorney for Novak Djokovic argued in court that anti-vax sentiments and protests in Australia were a result of "coercive action by the state" and not a result of the tennis star's presence in the country, CNN reported.
The comments came in a federal court hearing after Djokovic was detained for the second time after Australia's immigration minister Alex Hawke canceled Djokovic's visa arguing the tennis star posed a health risk and could embolden anti-vax groups in the country, according to court documents.
In court, Djokovic's lawyer Nick Wood said the athlete's presence in Australia does not add or encourage anti-vax sentiments, Reuters reported.
"If there was any foundation for thinking that Mr. Djokovic's presence and participation at a tennis tournament might somehow lead to this anti-vax sentiment, one would expect that it would be supported by some kind of evidence about anti-vax protests or rallies or the like at tennis events," Wood said.
Wood blamed anti-vax protests on "coercive" government measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, referencing marches in November where thousands of Australians rallied in cities across the country against vaccine mandates, The New York Times reported.
"The anti-vax protests have been directed to action by the state, principally coercive action by the state, or action by the state perceived to have some sort of coercive effect, sometimes called mandatory vaccination, or it might be strong nudges by the state to become vaxxed if not truly mandatory in character," Wood said.
CNN reported that Wood argued that it was one-sided and "somewhat perverse to adopt such a narrow lens" to suggest that the tennis star's presence could embolden anti-vaxxers and argued that it was "irrational" not to "consider the binary alternative, which was the prospect of anti-vax sentiment being fostered consequent to or following from coercive state action, being cancellation and expulsion."
Djokovic initially had his visa canceled by border officials in Melbourne last week when he arrived ahead of the Australian Open because he "failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia."
The Australian government requires non-citizens to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 before they can enter the country. His lawyers argued that he had received a vaccine exemption after testing positive for COVID-19 last month.
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