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

The development comes as the No. 1 tennis world is limited to a hotel in Melbourne as he takes on a desperate legal challenge against the revocation of his visa prior to the tournament.

Mr Djokovic had received a letter on 30 December 2021 from the Chief Medical Officer of Tennis Australia stating that he had been granted a “medical exemption from COVID vaccination” on the grounds that he had recently recovered from COVID, “the document said.

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

The 34-year-old – who has previously criticized Covid-19 vaccine mandates – was granted a medical waiver to compete in the tournament unvaccinated “on the grounds that he had recently recovered from COVID,” his lawyers said in a lawsuit. Saturday.

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Djokovic traveled to Melbourne in hopes of winning his 10th Australian Open title and 21st grand slam title.

The documents, which have been submitted to the court ahead of Djokovic’s hearing on Monday, confirmed that the player was unvaccinated when he arrived in Australia on 5 January.

After being questioned by the Australian border force, the post states that Djokovic’s exemption was declared invalid under Australia’s BioSecurity Act because his “previous infection with COVID-19 is not considered a medical contraindication to Covid-19 vaccination. in Australia.”

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

Djokovic’s visa was then canceled on 6 January at 4:11 local time under section 116 (1) (e) of the Migration Act, which “allows the cancellation of a visa where the holder poses a risk to health and safety or good order in Australian society or to a person in Australian community.”

Djokovic’s lawyers argued in the post that the nine-time Australian Open champion had every reason to believe he would gain access to the country as he “had a visa that did not qualify for any relevant condition … had received certification of a medical exemption from vaccination from the tournament organizer … and had received from the Department of Home Affairs a document informing him that he met the requirements for quarantine-free arrival. “

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The “letter from the Department of Home Affairs” to which Djokovic’s lawyers refer refers to the Australian Travel Declaration (ATD), 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 Extended Guidance on Temporary Medical Exemptions for Covid-19 Vaccines, in some cases a waiver may be granted to visa holders involving a “PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection where vaccination may be delayed. until 6 months after infection. “

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

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

Djokovic’s legal team requested an urgent ban on the Australian border forces’ decision to revoke his visa. The country’s federal court has postponed the decision until Monday on whether he will be allowed to stay in Australia or be deported, according to Reuters and the public television station ABC.

A number of teammates have given their support to Djokovic while the visa saga is still ongoing, including Australian Nick Kyrgios and US John Isner.

In his home country Serbia, meanwhile, the Djokovic family held a protest in front of the country’s National Assembly in Belgrade earlier this week. Djokovic’s father, Srdan, said authorities kept his son “trapped” – a claim that Australia’s Home Secretary Karen Andrews rejected.

“He’s free to leave anytime he chooses to do so, and the Border Force will actually facilitate that,” Andrews told ABC on Friday.

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

CNN’s Niamh Kennedy and George Ramsay contributed reporting.


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