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Court documents show Novak Djokovic had COVID-19 last month

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Court documents show Novak Djokovic had COVID-19 last month

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Lawyers for Novak Djokovic on Saturday filed court documents in his challenge to the deportation from Australia which show the tennis star tested positive for COVID-19 last month and recovered on the grounds that he has used to seek medical exemption from the country’s strict vaccination rules.

On Wednesday evening, No.1-ranked Djokovic was refused entry at Melbourne Airport after border officials revoked his visa for failing to meet his entry requirement that all non- nationals must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Djokovic received a medical exemption backed by the Victoria state government and the organizers of the Australian Open on January 1, based on information he provided to two independent medical panels, and he has been approved for a visa electronically.

But it has since emerged that the state of Victoria’s medical exemption, allowed for people who tested positive for the coronavirus in the past six months, has been ruled invalid by federal border officials.

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

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

Serbian tennis fans and anti-vaccination protesters argue with pro-refugee supporters outside the Park Hotel on January 8, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia.

Diego Fedele via Getty Images

The Australian Broadcasting Corp. and the Australian Associated Press reported details of the documents late Saturday. It showed that Djokovic received a letter from Tennis Australia’s chief medical officer on December 30 last year “recording that he had received a” medical exemption from COVID vaccination “on the grounds that he had recently recovered of COVID “.

The exemption certification stated that the 34-year-old’s first positive test date was December 16, 2021, “and that he had not had a fever or respiratory symptoms in the past 72 hours.”

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

On December 14, Djokovic attended a Euroleague basketball match between Red Star and Barcelona at a crowded gym in Belgrade. He was pictured hugging several players from both teams, some of whom tested positive shortly after.

The court brief said on Saturday that Djokovic had received confirmation from the Australian Home Office that his travel declaration had been assessed and his responses indicated that he qualified for an unquarantined arrival in Australia.

So who is at fault? Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said “rules are rules” and that inbound passengers are responsible for complying with border regulations.

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

Tennis Australia, which runs the tournament and arranges logistics for more than 2,000 incoming players, staff and officials, has reportedly misinterpreted players as to acceptable grounds for a bye. This included the interpretation that having had a coronavirus infection in the previous six months would qualify.

The federal government disagreed.

The state government of Victoria has required all players, staff, fans and officials to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to participate in the tournament.

The state, which approved the medical exemptions for Djokovic, said the exemptions were for access to Melbourne Park, not the border.

The organizers of the Australian Open have not made any public comment since Wednesday except to tell Australian newspapers that no player has been misled about the vaccination requirements.

Tournament director Craig Tiley continued to work in the background with Djokovic.

Tiley’s video message to Australian Open staff about the tournament’s “difficult time in the public arena” appeared in News Corp newspapers on Saturday.

“There was a circumstance that concerned a few players, Novak in particular. . . in a very difficult situation, ”Tiley said in the video. “We are a player-driven 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 Melbourne hotel which also houses refugees and asylum seekers. A third person, believed to be a civil servant, left the country voluntarily after investigations by border forces.

Court documents show Novak Djokovic had COVID-19 last month

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MADRID, SPAIN – DECEMBER 01: Serbian Novak Djokovic trains during the 2021 Davis Cup Final, Quarter Final, tennis match played between Serbia and Kazakhstan at Palacio de Madrid Arena on December 01, 2021 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Oscar J. Barroso / Europa Press via Getty Images)

Europa Press Sports via Getty Images

The other player was 38-year-old doubles player Renata Voráčová, who had already been in Australia for a week before an investigation by border officials. She told media in the Czech Republic that she had been confined to a room and that there was a guard in the hallway.

Djokovic reached out to the world for the first time in three days on Friday evening, posting on social media to mark the Orthodox Christmas and thank his supporters. There were large-scale rallies in Belgrade and small groups of supporters gathered in front of his detention hotel on a daily basis.

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

Djokovic, after months of speculation that he would miss the tournament because of his stance on vaccination, announced via social media on Tuesday that he had received a medical exemption to participate in the tournament.

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

Tiley said in his video to Australian Open staff that he cannot speak publicly due to the pending legal case, but has stood up for his organization.

“There are a lot of finger marks and a lot of blame,” he said in the video, “but I can assure you our team did an amazing job and did everything they could say they could. the instructions that they were provided.

If he doesn’t revoke his visa cancellation and is deported, Djokovic could be kicked out of the country for up to three years.

In an emailed response to The Associated Press on what could happen if Djokovic loses his legal fight, the Australian Border Force said: “A person whose visa has been canceled may be subject to a period of three-year exclusion which prevents the granting of a new temporary visa.

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

Associated Press writer Dusan Stojanovic in Belgrade, Serbia, contributed to this report.


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