Lawyers say Djokovic’s COVID infection met requirements for vaccine exemption



Tennis world No.1 Novak Djokovic recovered from COVID-19 before travelling to Australia which met the prescribed requirements for a vaccination exemption, his lawyers will argue.

The 34-year-old Serb on Sunday remained in immigration detention in Melbourne after his third night since his visa was cancelled by the federal government.

Court documents show Djokovic contracted COVID-19 less than a month before arriving in Melbourne and telling Australian Border Force officials he was not vaccinated.

The details were revealed on Saturday in documents lodged in the Federal Court.

“Mr Djokovic had received, on 30 December 2021, a letter from the Chief Medical Officer of Tennis Australia recording that he had been provided with a ‘medical exemption from COVID vaccination’ on the ground that he had recently recovered from COVID,” the documents read.

“The date of the first positive COVID PCR test was recorded on 16 December 2021.”

The papers went on to outline that Djokovic had no recent fever or respiratory symptoms of COVID-19 a fortnight after his diagnosis.

It comes as Czech tennis player Renata Voráčová, who was in the same immigration hotel, has reportedly been deported after her visa was cancelled by the Australian Border Force.

The ABC reports Voráčová was believed to have received a vaccine exemption as she had recently contracted COVID and recovered.

The 38-year-old flew out of Melbourne on a flight to Dubai on Saturday night.

Meanwhile Nick Kyrgios, who once said he could not stand Novak Djokovic and described him as “a tool”, has rallied behind his old foe.

Kyrgios declared that Djokovic was had not been treated humanely and that tennis really needed its world No.1 back at the Australian Open.

“Honestly, I hope it all gets sorted as soon as possible. For the sport, we need him here, it’s that simple,” Kyrgios said.

“He’s one of the most influential sports people, probably of all-time. If he’s ready to play and he’s allowed to play, I think it’s in a way good for our sport with all this attention.

“His life’s probably hard enough as it is, and I know what that’s like.
“I’m feeling for him now. Like it’s not really humane, is it, what’s going on?”

Nick Kyrgios is rallying behind the player he once described as a “tool”. Photo: AAP

Djokovic’s matter is due back in court on Monday when lawyers will attempt to overturn the federal government’s deportation order.

When he landed in Melbourne late on Wednesday, Djokovic was detained and questioned before his visa was revoked and the tennis star was taken to immigration detention.

The tennis champion’s lawyer will argue that he met the criteria for a temporary exemption under the guidelines of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).

And furthermore, that he was denied procedural fairness during the decision to revoke his visa.

The tennis champion’s argument is expected to focus partly on guidance provided by ATAGI.

“COVID-19 vaccination in people who have had PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection can be deferred for a maximum of six months after the acute illness, as a temporary exemption due to acute major medical illness,” the court documents cite from ATAGI vaccination advice.

Djokovic is staying at the Park Hotel in Melbourne’s inner north, known for housing refugees flown from Manus Island and Nauru.

He has said nothing about the conditions in the hotel, but has posted on Instagram for the first time since he arrived in Australia.

“Thank you to people around the world for your continuous support. I can feel it and it is greatly appreciated,” Djokovic wrote.

Serbia’s foreign affairs ministry hit out at Australia’s decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa, saying the star was the victim of a political game.

In a statement, Serbian state secretary Nemanja Starovic said the Serbian government did not want to influence the upcoming court case in Australia but wanted Djokovic to be moved to better accommodation in the meantime.

“The Serbian public has a strong impression that Djokovic is a victim of a political game against his will, and that he was lured to travel to Australia in order to be humiliated,” the ministry statement said.

“Novak Djokovic is not a criminal, terrorist or illegal migrant, but he was treated that way by the Australian authorities, which causes understandable indignation of his fans and citizens of Serbia.”

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said Djokovic was not being held captive in Australia.

“He is free to leave at any time that he chooses to do so, and Border Force will facilitate that,” she told ABC News.

-with AAP

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