Djokovic’s Australian deportation case documents show tennis No. 1 had COVID-19 last month

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Novak Djokovic’s lawyers in their challenge against deportation from Australia filed court papers on Saturday that show the tennis star tested positive for COVID-19 last month and recovered, the basis for the country’s strict vaccination rules. Used in applying for medical exemption.

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1-ranked Djokovic was denied entry at Melbourne airport late on Wednesday after border officials revoked his visa for failing to meet its entry requirement that all non-citizens be allowed to contract COVID-19. Be fully vaccinated for -19.

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Djokovic was granted a medical waiver on 1 January supported by the Victoria state government and the organizers of the Australian Open, based on information he provided to two independent medical panels, and was approved for a visa electronically. .

But it has since emerged that the Victoria state medical exemption, allowed for people who tested positive for the coronavirus within the past six months, was deemed invalid by federal border officials.

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Djokovic has been confined to an immigration detention hotel in Melbourne, where he is preparing for a legal challenge against the cancellation of his visa in Federal Circuit Court on Monday.

The Australian Open is starting on January 17. Djokovic is the defending champion and has won the Australian Open men’s singles title nine times. He holds 20 Grand Slam singles titles, a men’s record he shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp and the Australian Associated Press reported details of the documents late Saturday. This suggests that Djokovic had received a letter from Tennis Australia’s chief medical officer on 30 December last year, stating that he had been granted ‘medical exemption from COVID vaccination’ on the grounds that he had recently been diagnosed with COVID-19. were recovered from.

The exemption certification said the date of the 34-year-old Serb’s first positive test was December 16, 2021, “and he had no fever or respiratory symptoms in the past 72 hours.”

Djokovic attended an event to honor young tennis players in Belgrade on 17 December. The incident was covered by local media and parents posted pictures on social media showing Djokovic and the children not wearing masks. It is unclear whether Djokovic knew the results of his test at the time.

On 14 December, Djokovic attended a Euroleague basketball game between Red Star and Barcelona at a packed sports hall in Belgrade. He was photographed embracing several players from both the teams, including some who soon tested positive.

The court said on Saturday that Djokovic received confirmation from Australia’s Department of Home Affairs saying that his travel declaration had been assessed and that his responses indicated that he met the requirements for quarantine-free arrival in Australia.

So, whose fault is it? Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that “the rules are the rules” and that incoming passengers were responsible for meeting the border rules.

Tennis Australia and the government of the state of Victoria, where the Australian Open is played, are blaming confusion over precise definitions regarding the basis for medical exemptions.

Tennis Australia, which runs the tournament and organizes logistics for more than 2,000 visiting players, staff and officials, misinterpreted players about the acceptable grounds for exemptions. This included an explanation that he would be eligible if he had a coronavirus infection within the past six months.

The federal government disagreed.

The Victoria State Government mandated that all players, staff, fans and officials must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 in order to enter the tournament.

The state, which approved medical exemptions for Djokovic, said those exemptions had access to Melbourne Park, not limits.

Organizers of the Australian Open have not commented publicly since Wednesday, except to tell Australian newspapers that none of the players have been misled on vaccination requirements.

Tournament director Craig Tilly continues to work with Djokovic in the background.

Tilly’s video message to Australian Open staff about the tournament’s “tough times in the public arena” was published in News Corp newspapers on Saturday.

“There has been a situation that concerns some players, especially Novak . . . in a situation that is very difficult,” Tilly said in the video. “We are a player-first event. We are working closely with Novak and his team, and others and their team, who are in this situation. ,

Djokovic, 34, was one of two players detained at a hotel in Melbourne that also houses refugees and asylum seekers. A third person, said to be an officer, left the country voluntarily after a Border Force investigation.

The other player was 38-year-old doubles player Renata Vorasova, who had already been in Australia for a week before being investigated by border officials. He told media from the Czech Republic that he was locked in a room and there was a guard in the corridor.

Djokovic took to the world for the first time in three days on Friday night, posting on social media to mark Orthodox Christmas and thank his supporters. There are massive rallies taking place in Belgrade and small groups of supporters are gathering daily outside his detention hotel.

“Thank you people around the world for your continued support,” Djokovic posted on Instagram. “I can feel it and it’s so appreciated.”

After months of speculation over his stance on vaccination, Djokovic announced via social media on Tuesday that he would receive a medical exemption to play in the tournament.

Prime Minister Morrison said that this may have caught the attention of border officials.

Tilly said in his video to Australian Open staff that he could not speak publicly due to the ongoing legal matter but defended his organisation.

“There’s a lot of fingers going on and a lot of blame going on,” he said in the video, “but I can assure you that our team has done an incredible job and did everything they possibly could according to all the instructions.” could. have been provided to them.”

If he fails to cancel his visa and is deported, Djokovic could be banned from the country for up to three years.

Responding to an email to the Associated Press on what could happen if Djokovic loses his legal battle, the Australian Border Force said: “A person whose visa has been revoked may be subject to an exclusion period of three years which may be further extended.” Stops granting temporary visas. ”

“The exclusion period will be considered as part of any new visa application and may be waived in certain circumstances, given that each case is assessed on its own merits.”


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