- BBC News World
Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic had a vaccination exemption to enter Australia after testing positive for covid on December 16, his lawyers say in court documents.
Djokovic landed in Melbourne this week to play in the Australian Open, which begins on January 17, but was denied entry to the country and his visa was revoked for not being vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The highest ranked tennis player in the world is currently in an immigration detention center, awaiting a judicial process next Monday.
His case has sparked outrage in Australia and caused controversy around the world.
To Djokovic, 34, who has said that opposes vaccination, he had been granted a medical exemption to play in the tournament in a decision that angered many Australian citizens.
But the Serb was drastically denied entry once he landed in the country.
On Wednesday, Australian Border Force (ABF) agents said the player “did not provide adequate evidence” at Melbourne airport because a previous infection was not a valid reason to enter without a vaccine.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison later confirmed that is the case under federal regulations.
In court documents released Saturday, Djokovic’s lawyers say the athlete had been awarded a temporary visa to enter the country and that Tennis Australia had provided him with a “medical exemption from vaccination against the covid” due to his recent infection.
The documents indicate that an exemption certificate recorded that 14 days after testing positive in December, the player “had not had a fever or respiratory symptoms of covid-19 in the last 72 hours.”
There had been no prior announcement about his infection.
Djokovic’s waiver was granted by two independent medical panels run by Tennis Australia, the body that runs the event, and the state of Victoria.
His lawyers said that the star was in the immigration office at Melbourne Airport (capital of Victoria) for about eight hours after his arrival, and that he had little communication with them during that period of time.
They have also asked that the tennis star, who remains in the immigration detention hotel that has been criticized numerous times for its poor conditions, be transferred to “a more suitable place of detention” that allows him to train for the Australian Open.
Border regulations established during the pandemic in Australia prohibit foreigners from entering the country if they are not doubly vaccinated or have a medical exemption from receiving the vaccines.
While foreigners can fly to Australia with an online visa, they still must go through immigration customs upon arrival at the airport.
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