Novak Djokovic not told ‘so-called medical exemption’ would be accepted – government court documents claim
The Australian government did not tell Novak Djokovic that his “so-called medical exemption” would allow him to enter the country to compete in the Australian Open, court documents claim.
On Sunday, the government filed 13 pages of documents ahead of a hearing to decide whether the Serbian tennis star can remain in the country or be deported.
It also challenged Djokovic’s claim that he had a COVID infection at the end of last year.
The Australian government has said in the documents that even if Djokovic is successful in the hearing tomorrow, it may block his entry to the country anyway.
The hearing is due to start at 10am on Monday morning (11pm Sunday UK time), after a request by the Home Affairs department to delay it to Wednesday was rejected.
Representatives for the world’s top-ranked tennis player say he was given a medical exemption after testing positive for COVID-19 on 16 December.
His legal team says they had an assessment from the Department of Home Affairs that his responses on his Australia Traveller Declaration indicated he met the requirements for quarantine-free entry into the country.
Read more on Djokovic’s team case – as court documents claim he was questioned for six hours
But the government said: “It had not represented to the applicant that his so-called ‘medical exemption’ would be accepted.”
It argued “that says nothing about the power of the minister (or her delegate) to interrogate those responses, the evidence upon which they were based, and conclude that a cancellation power was enlivened under the Act upon his arrival into Australia”.
The government submission also challenged Djokovic’s infection claim, saying: “There is no suggestion that the applicant had ‘acute major medical illness’ in December 2021.
“All he has said is that he tested positive for COVID-19.”
Djokovic is hoping to win his 21st Grand Slam at the Australian Open, starting in Melbourne on 17 January.
But instead of training he has been confined in a hotel used for asylum seekers.
Supporters have gathered outside the hotel with some calling the Australian government a “disgrace” for its handling of the matter.
Gluten-free food deliveries, exercise equipment and a SIM card to contact family – the conditions in tennis star’s immigration detention
Djokovic is challenging the decision to cancel his visa after being stopped on arrival at Melbourne Airport early on Thursday.
The six-time Wimbledon champion, an outspoken critic of mass vaccination, has declined to reveal his vaccination status or reason for seeking a medical exemption from Australia’s inoculation rules.
On Saturday, photographs appeared to show Djokovic meeting with young players the day after his lawyers said he tested positive for COVID-19 in December last year.
Sky News has not been able to confirm when the event took place, but the Tennis Association of Serbia shared the images on 17 December and referred to the ceremony as taking place “today”.
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