Tennis star, Novak Djokovic had a vaccine exemption to enter Australia after a Covid infection on 16 December, his lawyers say in court documents.
The world’s top-ranked tennis player was denied entry to Australia after landing in Melbourne this week to play in the Australian Open.
Djokovic is currently in an immigration detention centre ahead of a court case on Monday. His case has caused a huge outcry in Australia and made headlines around the world.
The 34-year-old, who has said he is opposed to vaccination, had been granted a medical exemption to play in the tournament in a decision that infuriated many ordinary Australians. But the Serbian was dramatically denied entry on landing.
On Wednesday, Australian Border Force (ABF) officials said the player had “failed to provide appropriate evidence” at Melbourne Airport because a prior infection was not a valid reason to enter without a vaccination.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison later confirmed that this was the case under federal rules – despite an exemption provided by the Victorian state government.
In court documents released on Saturday, Djokovic’s lawyers said the player had been granted a temporary visa to enter the country and provided with a “medical exemption from Covid vaccination” by Tennis Australia because of his recent infection.
When the case comes to court on Monday, Djokovic’s lawyers will effectively say that the decision to revoke the visa was affected by a variety of “jurisdictional errors”.
According to BBC, they will argue that the correct procedures were not followed in revoking the document – for example questioning whether the player was properly informed of the move to cancel the visa and whether he was given the correct legal opportunity to respond.
Another key argument, the documents suggest, will be over whether border officials misconstrued the guidance around what constituted a medical reason not to be vaccinated.
There had been no prior announcement of Djokovic’s Covid infection, which was confirmed by a PCR test on 16 December. But on 17 December, Djokovic posted images to Twitter of his maskless appearance at a ceremony in which he was honoured with his own Serbian postage stamps in recognition for his achievements.
It is unclear whether he knew he had Covid when the photos were taken.