Djokovic received no guarantees to enter Australia, gov’t’s lawyers say

(Update 1: Adds Australian government statement, alters lede, headline)

Melbourne, Australia, Jan 9 (EFE).- The Australian government’s attorneys on Sunday denied Novak Djokovic had received entry guarantees on a medical exemption after their request for a two-day delay of the hearing on the deportation was turned down.

“There is no such thing as an assurance of entry by a non-citizen into Australia,” the lawyers for the interior ministry said, according to court documents. “Rather, there are criteria and conditions for entry, and reasons for refusal or cancellation of a visa”.

A Melbourne court is set to hold a hearing on Monday morning on the deportation of world No.1, whose visa was canceled on arrival last week as Djokovic is not vaccinated.

The government requested the hearing to be postponed to Wednesday as the tennis player’s lawyers presented a 35-page document in court on Saturday, but the request was denied.

His lawyers said that Djokovic tested positive for Covid-19 on Dec. 16, 2021 and was “provided with a ‘medical exemption from Covid vaccination’ on the grounds that he had recently recovered from Covid.”

The exemption was granted 14 days after the 34-year-old tested positive for coronavirus and after 72 hours without symptoms.

The document filed by the interior ministry lawyers admitted that the applicant’s responses indicated that he met the requirements to travel without quarantine to Australia.

This, however, does not deny the minister the right to question these responses, the document added.

On Thursday, the tennis player’s legal team said they were advised by Tennis Australia that they would need a definitive answer for scheduling purposes by Tuesday, to which the judge replied that “the tail won’t be wagging the dog here.”

The year’s first Grand Slam is scheduled to be held in Melbourne between Jan. 17 and 30.

In the midst of an international uproar, Australian authorities revoked Djokovic’s visa for failing to comply with Covid-19 measures upon his arrival in the Oceania country on Wednesday night despite having obtained a medical exemption to defend his Australian Open title.

He has been in immigration detention in a hotel in Melbourne since Thursday the court hearing on an appeal against his deportation.

Despite the lawyers’ argument that Djokovic tested positive for Covid-19 on Dec. 16, several photos posted on social media show the world no. 1 taking part in public events without a mask on that day as well as the next.

Meanwhile, Czech tennis player Renata Voracova, who was detained on Thursday after the Australian authorities canceled her visa, left Australia on Saturday.

Voracova, who had been in Australia since December and had already played in a match before her visa was canceled, had obtained a medical exemption to enter the country as she was not fully vaccinated.

Vaccination is mandatory to enter Australia, but there are a handful of reasons that an exemption can be granted, including an acute medical condition such as undergoing major surgery or a serious adverse event attributed to a previous dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. EFE


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