Novak Djokovic was granted medical exemption after testing positive for Covid-19 in December, court documents show

The development comes as the world’s No. 1 tennis player is confined to a Melbourne hotel as he undertakes a desperate legal challenge against having his visa revoked before the tournament.

“Mr Djokovic had received, on December 30, 2021, a letter from Tennis Australia’s medical director stating that he had been granted a ‘medical exemption from COVID vaccination’ on the grounds that he had been recently recovered from COVID, “says the document. saying.

Djokovic’s first positive PCR test for Covid was recorded on December 16, 2021, and after showing no signs of fever or “respiratory symptoms,” he applied for a medical exemption to compete at the Australian Open, according to the document.

The 34-year-old, who had previously criticized the Covid-19 vaccine mandates, received a medical exemption to compete in the tournament unvaccinated “on the grounds that he had recently recovered from COVID,” his lawyers said in a presentation. judicial. Saturday.

READ: Novak Djokovic fans struggle to get him out of his hotel. Inside, refugees wonder if they’ll ever leave

The documents, which were presented to the court before Djokovic’s hearing on Monday, confirmed that the player was not vaccinated when he arrived in Australia on January 5.

After being challenged by the Australian Border Force, the filing states that Djokovic’s exemption was determined to be invalid under Australia’s Biosafety Act because his “prior infection with COVID-19 is not considered a medical contraindication to vaccination. Covid-19 in Australia “.

A “medical contraindication” is granted in specific situations where a drug, procedure, vaccine or surgery should not be used because it could be harmful to a person’s health.

Djokovic’s visa was canceled on January 6 at 4:11 am local time, under Section 116 (1) (e) of the Migration Law, which “allows the cancellation of a visa when the holder represents a risk to the health, safety or good order of the Australian community, or an individual within the Australian community. “

Djokovic’s lawyers argued in the filing that the nine-time Australian Open champion had every reason to believe that he would be granted entry to the country as he “had an unqualified visa for any relevant condition … he had received certification of a medical exemption from vaccination “. from the organizer of the tournament … and had received from the Department of the Interior a document informing him that he met the requirements to arrive without quarantine. “

READ: Nick Kyrgios criticizes Novak Djokovic’s ‘really bad’ treatment amid visa queue

The “Home Department letter” referred to by Djokovic’s lawyers refers to the Australian Travel Declaration (ATD) form, which is a standard document to be completed by all passengers arriving in the country at least 72 hours. before departure.

According to the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization’s Expanded Guidance on Temporary Medical Exemptions for Covid-19 Vaccines, an exemption may be granted to visa holders in some cases involving a ‘SARS-CoV-2 infection confirmed by PCR, where vaccination can be postponed until 6 months after infection. “

However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters on Thursday that in November 2021 Tennis Australia was informed in a letter that players not vaccinated with a recent Covid-19 infection would not be allowed to enter the country.

Djokovic has not publicly disclosed his vaccination status, but at a press conference Thursday, Morrison said the 34-year-old “did not have a valid medical exemption” to the vaccination requirement for arrivals in the country.

Djokovic’s legal team requested an urgent injunction against the Australian Border Forces decision to revoke his visa. The country’s Federal Court deferred a decision until Monday on whether he will be allowed to stay in Australia or be deported, according to Reuters and the public broadcaster ABC.

Several players have lent their support to Djokovic as the visa saga continues, including Nick Kyrgios from Australia and John Isner from the United States.

Meanwhile, in their native Serbia, the Djokovic family organized a protest in front of the country’s National Assembly in Belgrade earlier this week. Djokovic’s father, Srdan, said authorities were holding his son as a “captive,” a claim that Australian Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews denied.

“He’s free to go anytime he wants, and the Border Force will really facilitate that,” Andrews told ABC on Friday.

“It is the responsibility of the individual traveler to ensure that they have all the necessary documentation to enter Australia.”

CNN’s Niamh Kennedy and George Ramsay contributed to this report.


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