Djokovic argued that he was given the green light by Australia because of his recent COVID infection According to Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Tennis – ATP Cup – Ken Rosewall Arena, Sydney, Australia – January 12, 2020 Novak Djokovic of Serbia competes in his Singles Final match against Rafael Nadal of Spain REUTERS/Edgar Su/ File Photo


By Courtney Walsh and Byron Kaye

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – World number one Novak Djokovic said in a legal challenge on Saturday when he was denied entry to Australia that he was exempt from the COVID-19 vaccine because he contracted the disease in January. before.

In a court filing ahead of Monday’s hearing about the cancellation of his visa, Djokovic said he had received an exemption from Tennis Australia tournament organizers, with a follow-up letter from the Department of Home Affairs for know you have been allowed to enter the country.

The Serbian, hoping to win his 21st Grand Slam at the Australian Open later this month, is on his third day of immigration detention in Melbourne – a case that has sparked outrage in the sport, politically politics and diplomacy.

A vocal opponent of vaccine mandates, Djokovic has been detained since Thursday in a modest hotel after his visa was canceled due to problems with the medical exemption from the country’s immigration requirements for the coronavirus vaccination he presented.

The film caused tension between Serbia and Australia and also became a focal point for opponents of vaccine missions around the world.

“I have explained that I have recently been infected with COVID in December 2021 and on this basis, I have a medical exemption in accordance with the Australian Government regulations and guidelines,” Djokovic said in a statement. profile of the detention experience at Melbourne Airport.

Djokovic said he told Australian Border Force officers that “I have correctly declared my Australian Travel Statement and have met all requirements necessary for lawful entry into Australia on a visa. mine”.

Djokovic had his first positive COVID-19 test on December 16, but as of December 30 “have not had a fever or respiratory symptoms of COVID-19 in the past 72 hours,” the filing said.

On January 1, he received a document from the Department of Home Affairs telling him his responses showed he met “the requirements to enter Australia without quarantine”.

The federal court ordered the Interior Department to file a response by Sunday.

The Border Force, a unit of the Interior Department, did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment on Saturday.

The Australian Open starts on January 17.

Many countries allow recent COVID infections as an excuse to waive vaccine requirements. The Australian federal government released a letter shortly after Djokovic’s arrival showing it had informed Tennis Australia that this was not necessarily the case domestically.

The federal and state governments of Victoria and Tennis Australia have denied responsibility for the dispute.

Meanwhile, Czech tennis player Renata Voracova, who was detained in the same hotel where Djokovic was detained and whose visa was revoked following immunity issues, has left https://www.reuters. com/lifestyle/sports/tennis-player-voracova-left- Czech Foreign Ministry said Australia-after-visa-issues-Czech Foreign Affairs-2022-01-08 on Saturday.

The department said she was leaving “based on her own decision to terminate participation in the tournament due to troubles with her visa” and added, “The decision was not based on her expulsion from country”.


Djokovic’s court filing confirms a media report that he had asked to be moved into tennis court accommodation but his request was denied. Park Hotel, where he stays, is also his hometown of dozens of asylum seekers trying to enter the country.

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said the player was provided with gluten-free food, exercise equipment and a sim card.

“He will stay at the Park Hotel until the final decision is made,” Brnabic told Serbian media.

“We’ve managed to ensure that gluten-free food is delivered to him, as well as exercise equipment, a laptop and a sim card so he can stay in touch with his family.”

“It is a positive tone from the Australian side. The Serbian government is ready to provide all necessary guarantees for Novak to be allowed to enter Australia, the president of Serbia (Aleksandar Vucic) is also involved,” Brnabic said.

The tennis player’s family has voiced support in recent days and his father, Srdjan Djokovic, said on Saturday he was “disgusted” by his son’s treatment in Australia.

“He feels love, he is a spiritual rock. If the court decides that he has to leave Australia, he will leave. If it decides that he can stay, he will stay. stay. But politicians will not decide the fate of the best athlete in the world at all times,” he told a rally in front of parliament in Belgrade on Saturday, attended by many people.


Djokovic’s filing says he expressed “shock,” surprise” and “perplexity” at being held overnight, and had a bed ready near the interview room at the airport so he could rest. while waiting until morning when legal representatives can be met and Tennis Australia, the filing said.

Customs officers ultimately “pressured” Djokovic to do an interview before he spoke to either, the filing said.

Tennis Australia said it never intentionally mislead players and always encouraged players to get vaccinated, after News Corp (NASDAQ:) published a document from the organizers that appeared to advise players on how to enter entry into the country on the condition that they are exempt from vaccination.

Tennis Australia said in a statement fully quoted by local media “We categorically deny that the playing team was intentionally misled”.

Tennis Australia’s advice is based on the content of a federal government website that the federal health minister has introduced, the statement added.

Tennis Australia did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

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