Novak Djokovic obtained vaccine exemption after testing positive for Covid-19 in December, court documents show



By Hannah Ritchie, CNN

Novak Djokovic obtained a medical exemption to compete in the Australian Open after having recently recovered from Covid-19, court documents released by the Australian Federal Circuit on Saturday.

Development comes as the World No. 1 in tennis is confined to a hotel in Melbourne as he challenges the revocation of his visa before the tournament.

“Mr Djokovic had received a letter on December 30, 2021 from Tennis Australia’s chief medical officer recording that he had received a ‘medical exemption from COVID vaccination’ on the grounds that he had recently recovered from COVID,” the document mentioned.

Djokovic’s first positive PCR test was recorded on December 16, 2021, and after showing no signs of fever or “respiratory symptoms,” he requested medical exemption to compete in the Australian Open, according to the document.

The Serbian player – who has previously criticized the Covid-19 vaccination warrants – obtained a medical exemption to participate in the tournament without being vaccinated “on the grounds that he had recently recovered from COVID”, his lawyers said on Saturday in a brief.

The documents, which were submitted to the court ahead of Djokovic’s hearing on Monday, confirmed the player was not vaccinated when he arrived in Australia on January 5.

After being questioned by the Australian Border Force, the communication says that Djokovic’s exemption was found to be invalid under Australian Biosafety Act because his “previous infection with COVID-19 is not considered to be a medical contraindication to vaccination against Covid-19 in Australia ”.

A “medical contraindication” is granted in specific situations where a drug, procedure, vaccine or surgery should not be used because it may be harmful to a person’s health.

Djokovic’s visa was subsequently canceled on January 6 at 4:11 a.m. local time, under section 116 (1) (e) of the Migration Act, which “allows the cancellation of a visa when the licensee poses a risk to the health, safety or good order of the Australian community, or to an individual within the Australian community.

Djokovic’s lawyers argued in the submission that the nine-time Australian Open champion had every reason to believe he would be allowed entry into the country, as he “held a visa without any relevant conditions … had received the certification of a medical exemption from vaccination from the organizer of the tournament… and had received from the Ministry of the Interior a document informing him that he fulfilled the conditions for an arrival without quarantine.

The “letter from the Home Office” referenced by Djokovic’s lawyers relates to the Australian Travel Declaration (ATD) form, which is a standard document that must be completed by all passengers arriving in the country at least 72 hours before departure. .

According to ATAGI’s expanded guidelines on temporary medical exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines, a temporary exemption may be granted to visa holders in certain cases involving a “PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, where vaccination may be delayed up to 6 months after infection.

However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters on Thursday that Tennis Australia was informed in a letter dated November 2021 that unvaccinated players with recent Covid-19 infection would not be allowed to enter the country.

The Serbian superstar has not publicly disclosed his vaccination status, but at a press conference on Thursday Morrison said the 34-year-old “does not have a valid medical exemption” from compulsory vaccination for arrivals in the country.

Djokovic’s legal team has requested an urgent injunction against the decision by Australian border forces to revoke his visa. The country’s Federal Court has adjourned the decision until Monday on whether he will be allowed to stay in Australia or be deported, according to Reuters and public broadcaster ABC.

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CNN’s Niamh Kennedy and George Ramsay contributed reporting


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