New Details Emerge in Djokovic's Detention Case

Serbian tennis star, facing deportation in Australia, had COVID last month, lawyers say in court filing
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 8, 2022 6:00 AM CST
Lawyers: Djokovic Had COVID Last Month
Serbia's Novak Djokovic is seen during a match against Austria's Dennis Novak in a Davis Cup match between Serbia and Austria in Innsbruck, Austria, on Nov. 26, 2021.   (Photo/Michael Probst)

(Newser) – The mystery of whether or not Novak Djokovic has actually received the coronavirus vaccine has now been cleared up, and we now also know more about his experiences with COVID. On Saturday, his lawyers submitted court documents that revealed the 34-year-old Serbian tennis star had had COVID in December and was recovered and symptom-free by the time he arrived in Australia on Jan. 5 for the upcoming Australian Open, reports ESPN. When Djokovic showed up at the Melbourne airport on Wednesday, border officials canceled his visa and he was denied entry, despite him having what he claims was a medical exemption from the country's COVID vaccine mandate.

According to the court document, Djokovic tested positive for COVID on Dec. 16, but 14 days later he "had not had a fever or respiratory symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 72 hours." The Saturday court filing also confirmed what many had already suspected: that Djokovic wasn't vaccinated when he tried to get into Australia, reports CNN. In the court filing, his lawyers say that on Jan. 1, Djokovic received "a document from the Department of Home Affairs [which] told Mr. Djokovic that his responses indicate[d] that [he met] the requirements for a quarantine-free arrival into Australia." The court filing also notes that he had a medical exemption in hand from Tennis Australia, which organizes the Australian Open.

However, once he got to Melbourne and was interrogated by border officials, his supposed medical exemption was found to be invalid under Australia's Biosecurity Act, as his bout with COVID "is not considered a medical contraindication for Covid-19 vaccination," per the court documents. The federal government also said this week that it had told Tennis Australia back in November that unvaccinated players who'd recovered from COVID wouldn't qualify for a medical exemption. The court filing by Djokovic's legal team adds that he was pressured to accept that his visa had been canceled before having a chance to consult with his lawyers, per the Wall Street Journal. On Monday, Djokovic's case will be heard in Australia's Federal Court, which will decide whether he's to be deported before the Australian Open begins on Jan. 17. (Read more Novak Djokovic stories.)

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