Novak Djokovic had vaccine exemption to enter Australia due to recent Covid infection, lawyers say

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  • Novak Djokovic
    Novak Djokovic
    Serbian tennis player
Djokovic is stuck in immigration detention after arriving in Australia to play in the tennis open.  (AFP via Getty Images)
Djokovic is stuck in immigration detention after arriving in Australia to play in the tennis open. (AFP via Getty Images)

Tennis star Novak Djokovic was exempt from getting the Covid vaccination because he had recently been infected with the disease, his lawyers have said.

Australia’s immigration department had already given the tennis player written clearance to enter the country, court filings alleged on Saturday.

“The date of the first positive Covid PCR tests was recorded on 16 December 2021,” Djokovic’s lawyers said.

Djokovic is currently in immigration detention in Australia after having his visa cancelled.

His lawyers are challenging the decision to revoke the tennis star’s visa. They submitted a filing to court saying that Djokovic “had not had a fever or respiratory symptoms of Covid-19 in the last 72 hours”.

The Serbian player is due to compete in the Australian Open and organisers of the tennis tournament said he had been granted a medical exemption by two independent panels organised by Tennis Australia, the body that runs the event, as well as by Victoria state.

The decision has led to some protests in the country, which has an extremely harsh border policy that prevented Australian nationals travelling home from foreign countries last year.

On Wednesday, Australian border officials said the 34-year-old had “failed to provide appropriate evidence” for entry to the country.

The Australian Border Force said in a statement: “Non-citizens who do not hold a valid visa on entry or who have had their visa cancelled will be detained and removed from Australia”.

A hearing to challenge the decision will be heard at the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia on Monday.

Novac Djokovic has reportedly been denied any “special treatment” during his stay in immigration custody - meaning he has to eat food provided by the immigration detention facility and that he cannot access a tennis court to practice.

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