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Novak Djokovic was granted medical exemption after testing positive for Covid-19 in December, court documents show

Novak Djokovic was granted medical exemption after testing positive for Covid-19 in December, court documents show
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The development comes as the No. 1 tennis player is confined to a Melbourne hotel as he faces a desperate legal challenge against having his visa revoked before the tournament.

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

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

His lawyers said in a court note that the 34-year-old – who has previously criticized mandates for a Covid-19 vaccine – was granted medical exemption to compete in the unvaccinated tournament “on the grounds that he had recently recovered from COVID”. Saturday.

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

After being questioned by the Australian Border Force, the request notes that Djokovic’s exemption has been determined to be invalid under the Australian Biosecurity Act because “his previous COVID-19 infection is not considered a medical contraindication to a Covid-19 vaccination in Australia”.

A “medical contraindication” is given in specific cases 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Djokovic’s visa was subsequently rescinded on January 6 at 4:11 am local time, under Section 116(1)(e) of the Immigration Act, which “allows the visa to be revoked where the holder poses a risk to the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 granted entry to the country because he “has a visa ineligible in any relevant case… has received a certificate of medical exemption from vaccination. From the tournament organizer… and received a document from the Ministry of The Ministry of Interior informs him that he meets the conditions for access without quarantine.”

read: Nick Kyrgios slams ‘really bad’ treatment of Novak Djokovic amid visa row

The ‘letter from the Department of Home Affairs’ referred to by Djokovic’s lawyers concerns the Australian Travel Declaration (ATD) form, a standard document that must be filled out by all passengers arriving in the country at least 72 hours prior to departure.

According to the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization’s expanded guidance on temporary medical exemptions for Covid-19 vaccines, an exemption can be granted to visa holders in some cases involving “PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection”, where vaccination can be deferred up to 6 months after injury.”

However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters on Thursday that Tennis Australia had been notified in a letter dating back to November 2021 that unvaccinated players with Covid-19 would not be allowed into the country.

Djokovic has not publicly disclosed his vaccination status, but at a news conference on Thursday, Morrison said the 34-year-old “does not have a valid medical exemption” from the vaccination requirement for those coming into the country.

Djokovic’s legal team has sought an urgent injunction against the Australian Border Force’s decision to revoke his visa. The country’s federal court has delayed its decision until Monday on whether he will be allowed to remain in Australia or be deported, according to Reuters and public broadcaster ABC.

A number of fellow players have lent their support to Djokovic while the visa saga continues, including Australian Nick Kyrgios and American player John Isner.

Meanwhile, Djokovic’s family, in his native Serbia, staged a protest in front of the country’s National Assembly in Belgrade earlier this week. Sardan, Djokovic’s father, said authorities were holding his son as a “prisoner” – a charge denied by Australian Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews.

“He’s free to leave at any time he chooses to do so, and Border Force will really facilitate that,” Andrews told ABC on Friday.

“It is the traveler’s responsibility to ensure they have all the necessary documents needed to enter Australia.”

CNN’s Niamh Kennedy and George Ramsay contributed reporting.

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