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Novak Djokovic did have a medical exemption to enter Australia without being vaccinated, his lawyers said in a court filing.
The world tennis number one is currently in immigration detention and fighting deportation after his visa was cancelled when he arrived in Melbourne earlier this week.
Initially, he’d been granted a ‘special exemption’ by Tennis Australia, but his entry was refused by the Victorian government due to a failure to meet its COVID-19 vaccination exemption requirements. The debate over his participation in the grand slam competition has sparked fury among many Australians.
Djokovic, who is opposed to vaccination, tested positive for coronavirus on December 16, BBC News reports. In new court documents, his lawyers said he’d received a temporary visa as well as ‘medical exemption from COVID vaccination’ by Tennis Australia on account of his recent infection.
Two weeks after his positive test, Djokovic did not have ‘a fever or respiratory symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 72 hours’, making him eligible for the exemption certificate, which was ‘provided by an Independent Expert Medical Review panel’ and reportedly endorsed by the Victorian government.
On January 1, the Serbian star also received ‘a document from the Department of Home Affairs’, which told Djokovic that his responses indicated he met ‘the requirements for a quarantine-free arrival into Australia’, his lawyers added.
Tennis Australia earlier told unvaccinated players they could possibly obtain a temporary exemption if they’d recovered from COVID-19 in the past six months, a leaked letter claimed, but the sports body insisted players should still get vaccinated.
‘We have always been consistent in our communications to players that vaccination is the best course of action – not just as the right thing to do to protect themselves and others, but also as the best course of action to ensure they could arrive in Australia,’ Tennis Australia said, as per Sky News.
The government has since released a letter it had written to Tennis Australia stating that players don’t have the right to an exemption even if they’ve recently recovered from the virus.
UNILAD has contacted Novak Djokovic’s representation for comment.
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