Covid infection gave Novak Djokovic Australian vaccine exemption, lawyers say

Novak Djokovic’s lawyers filed court documents in his lawsuit against the deportation from Australia showing that the tennis star had contracted Covid-19 last month.

The No. 1 male tennis player was refused entry at Melbourne Airport late Wednesday after border officials canceled his visa for failing to meet entry requirements to fully vaccinate all non-citizens against Covid-19.

Djokovic, 34, received a medical exemption backed by the Victoria state government and Australian Open organizers based on information he submitted to two independent medical bodies.

However, it has since emerged that the medical exemption for people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past six months has been invalidated by border authorities.

Djokovic is in immigration custody in Melbourne and is preparing to be indicted in federal court on Monday.

The Serb risks missing out on more than one Australian Open if he doesn’t get his visa canceled and is deported because he doesn’t have enough evidence for a medical exception.

It could be banned for up to three years.

In an email response to The Associated Press about what could happen if Djokovic loses his litigation, the Australian Border Force said, “A person whose visa has been canceled may be subject to a three-year grace period that prevents another visa from being granted prevents temporary visas. “

“The exclusion period will be considered as part of any new visa application and may be lifted under certain circumstances, with each case being assessed on its own.”

The organizers of the Australian Open have not made any public statements except to tell Australian newspapers that no players have been misled about vaccination regulations.

Tournament director Craig Tiley has continued to work with Djokovic in hopes of bringing the defending champions into the tournament, which starts a week from Monday.

Djokovic, who shares the men’s record of 20 individual Grand Slam titles with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, is one of two players who were detained in a hotel in Melbourne that also houses refugees and asylum seekers. A third person who allegedly is a civil servant left the country voluntarily following an investigation by the border forces.

The other player was identified as 38-year-old doubles player Renata Voracova by the Czech embassy in Canberra on Friday.

Djokovic turned back to the world for the first time in three days later on Friday evening, posting on social media to celebrate Orthodox Christmas and thank his supporters. There have been large rallies in Belgrade and small groups of supporters gathered in front of his detention hotel every day.

“Thanks to people around the world for their continued support,” wrote Djokovic on Instagram. “I can feel it and it is very much appreciated.”

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