Federal Court Chief Justice James Allsop has revealed why judges upheld Immigration Minister Alex Hawke's decision to cancel Novak Djokovic's visa.
The three judges of the Federal Court's full bench unanimously ordered the world No. 1 to leave Australia on Sunday and to pay all of Hawke's legal costs.
Justice Allsop on Sunday agreed with Hawke, who had cited "health" and "good order" grounds in revoking Djokovic's visa because the tennis star had not been vaccinated against Covid-19 and there was a fear he could incite anti-vaccination sentiment.
The reasons, published online on Thursday afternoon, refer to Djokovic's power to influence young Australians in particular to reject the Covid-19 vaccines.
"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 document reads.
"This is not fanciful; it does not need evidence. It is the recognition of human behaviour from a modest familiarity with human experience.
"Even if Mr Djokovic did not win the Australian Open, 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."
The judges also noted that it was obvious Djokovic was anti-vaccination.
"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 document reads.
The judges referred to a publication titled "What has Novak Djokovic actually said about vaccines?" which reported that, in April 2020, he said he was "opposed to vaccination".
"Although he had qualified this by saying that he was 'no expert' and 'would keep an open mind', he apparently said that he wanted to have 'an option to choose what's best for my body'," the judges wrote.
"It was not irrational for the Minister to be concerned that the asserted support of some anti-vaccination groups for Mr Djokovic's apparent position on vaccination may encourage rallies and protests that may lead to heightened community transmission."
The judges also found Djokovic's decision to attend an interview while Covid-positive was a bad omen for what may have developed in Australia.
Djokovic said he knew he had Covid-19 but went to an interview with a journalist because he "didn't want to let the journalist down".
The judges said: "There was evidence . . . that Mr Djokovic had recently disregarded reasonable public health measures overseas by attending activities unmasked while Covid-positive to his knowledge.
"It was open to infer that this, if emulated, may encourage an attitude of breach of public health regulations."
The Serbian star made a statement after the decision by the Federal Court on Sunday.
"I'd like to make a brief statement to address the outcomes of today's Court hearing," he said. "I will now be taking some time to rest and to recuperate, before making any further comments beyond this.
"I am extremely disappointed with the ruling to dismiss my application for judicial review of the decision to cancel my visa, which means I cannot stay in Australia and participate in the Australian Open. I respect the Court's ruling and I'll co-operate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from Aus.
"I am uncomfortable that the focus of the past weeks has been on me and I hope that we can all now focus on the game and tournament I love. I would like to wish the players, tournament officials, staff, volunteers and fans all the best for the tournament.
"Finally, I would like to thank my family, friends, team, supporters, fans and my fellow Serbians for your continued support. You have all been a great source of strength to me."
On Tuesday evening, two days into the tournament, Tennis Australia finally addressed the situation.
In a statement, the TA board said it "deeply regrets" the events that led the world's best male tennis player to travel to Australia under the impression he had a medical exemption that meant he did not need to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
"The board and Member Associations commend the Tennis Australia CEO (Tiley) and the entire Tennis Australia team for their hard work and dedication to delivering a spectacular summer of tennis," the statement read.