Djokovic tested positive for coronavirus in December, his lawyers say

MELBOURNE, Australia – Novak Djokovic’s lawyers said in a lawsuit on Saturday that the tennis star tested positive for coronavirus in mid-December and that the Australian government erred this week in revoking his visa due to a vaccination request.

Mr Djokovic, who hopes to defend his men’s singles title at the Australian Open this month, was denied permission to enter the country on Thursday after arriving at Melbourne Airport. The border authorities said they had revoked his visa because he had not provided evidence that would justify an exemption from the Australian requirement that newcomers be vaccinated against coronavirus.

Mr Djokovic’s lawyers said on Saturday that Tennis Australia had granted him an exemption from vaccination because of a positive coronavirus test on December 16 and because he had no fever or respiratory symptoms in 72 hours 14 days later. .

The conditions for the exemption were in line with the recommendations of the Australian Immunization Advisory Council, the lawyers argued. In those circumstances, inter alia, Djokovic understood that he had the right to enter Australia, “it said.

Mr Djokovic, skeptical of vaccination, is quarantined at a hotel in Melbourne, awaiting a hearing scheduled for Monday on his appeal against the government’s decision to lift his visa.

In June 2020, he announced that he and his wife had tested positive for the coronavirus, but that his December infection had not been previously reported.

Mr Djokovic’s lawyers argue that the Australian authorities, when revoking his visa, “radically and fundamentally” misinterpreted or misapplied the advice of the Australian Immunization Advisory Board as to whether coronavirus infection should exempt him from the vaccination obligation within the last six months.

The report also alleges that Mr Djokovic was denied procedural justice upon arrival in Australia when he was detained at the airport by the immigration authorities from approximately midnight to 8 am.

His lawyers say Mr Djokovic was initially told by immigration officials that his decision on his visa would not be made until 8:30 a.m., after he had the opportunity to speak with Tennis Australia. But around 6:00 he was forced to agree to an immediate decision. He backed off, “feeling he has no choice,” and at 7:42 he was informed that his visa had been revoked, according to his filing.

The Australian Border Forces refused to comment on the submission, citing the ongoing court proceedings. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the cancellation of Mr Djokovic’s visa was “simply a matter of compliance.”

If Mr Djokovic’s appeal fails, he could be banned from entering Australia for three years, according to the rules applicable to people whose visas are revoked.

Separately, the Australian Border Forces said on Saturday night that two other allies with the tennis tournament she was investigating had left the country.

“The Australian Border Force (ABF) investigation into the visa status of two other Australian Open-related individuals has ended,” the e-mail statement said. “ABF can confirm that both individuals have now voluntarily left Australia.”

The statement did not identify both people, but the local media reported on the investigation a few days earlier.

On Friday, the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed in a statement that the Czech player Renata Voráčová, together with “several other tennis players”, was placed in the same custody as Mr. Djokovič. The statement said she “demonstrated non-infectiousness in a way that entitles her to participate in the tournament” and has already played in the warm-up event, but “has decided to give up further participation in the tournament and leave Australia due to limited training opportunities.”

The Australia Broadcasting Corporation also said a European tennis official had left the country in similar circumstances.


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