Djokovic had COVID-19 last month, received written clearance to come to Australia – lawyers

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Novak Djokovic tested positive for COVID-19 in December and was later given the go-ahead by Australia's Department of Home Affairs to travel to Melbourne, his lawyers said on Saturday.

The men's tennis world number one is being detained at the Park Hotel in Melbourne ahead of a court hearing on Monday that should determine whether he is allowed to stay in Australia.

The Australian Open begins on January 17 and Djokovic's legal team are battling for him to be freed in order to prepare for and participate in the tournament.

Australian Border Force officials cancelled his visa application on Thursday, stating Djokovic had "failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia".

Djokovic had been granted a medical exemption by organisers of the first grand slam of the year, but his fate now hangs in the balance.

His lawyers filed a detailed submission to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia on Saturday, in which it was stated that Djokovic was granted a temporary activity visa on November 18.

Men's grand slam winners - Djokovic, Federer, Nadal
Men's grand slam winners - Djokovic, Federer, Nadal

This did not contain any conditions regarding his vaccination status, lawyers for Djokovic said, adding that the Serbian then tested positive for coronavirus, after a PCR check, on December 16. This was confirmed by the Institute of Public Health of Serbia, the 34-year-old's lawyers said.

Subsequently, having recovered from COVID-19, Djokovic was informed he was eligible to play the first grand slam of 2022 by Tennis Australia officials.

According to details filed by his lawyers, Djokovic received confirmation on December 30 from Tennis Australia's chief medical officer that he had been awarded a medical exemption to compete, on the basis he had recently recovered from the virus.

"Mr Djokovic had also received, on 01 January 2022, a document from the Department of Home Affairs in regard to his Australian Travel Declaration," his lawyers said.

This document, according to his representatives, stated that Djokovic was informed "[his] responses indicate[d] that [he met] the requirements for a quarantine-free arrival into Australia where permitted by the jurisdiction of your arrival".

If cleared to leave his hotel and compete in the Australian Open, Djokovic will be seeking a 10th title at Melbourne Park and a 21st grand slam. He currently shares the men's record of 20 major titles with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

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