Melbourne, Australia, Jan 10 (EFE).- Lawyers for world number one tennis player Novak Djokovic argued in court Monday that he followed all the necessary steps to enter Australia under a medical vaccination exemption, with the judge asking what more the tennis star could possibly have done.
The Melbourne Federal Circuit Court is hearing the tennis player’s appeal of the Australian authorities’ decision to cancel his visa after he arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday night with a medical exemption that would have allowed him to defend his title at the Australian Open without being vaccinated. Australian Border Force said he did not meet entry requirements.
Djokovic’s lawyers say that a recent Covid-19 infection qualified the tennis star for the exemption from a requirement for travelers entering the country to be fully vaccinated.
At the hearing, Djokovic’s lawyer Nicholas Wood said that the Serbian athlete “had done absolutely everything that he understood, was required to enter Australia.”
“He’s made the declaration, provided the evidence even though it was not required, and then he received [notice] from the Department of Home Affairs … saying the application has been assessed and meets the required for quarantine-free travel,” Wood said.
However, the federal government argues that there was no guarantee of entry.
Judge Anthony Kelly said “a professor and an eminently qualified physician have produced and provided to the applicant a medical exemption.”
“Further to that, that medical exemption and the basis on which it was given was separately given by a further independent expert specialist panel established by the Victorian state government and that document was in the hands of the delegate.
“And the point I’m somewhat agitated about is, was what more could this man have done?” Judge Kelly asked.
During the morning session of about two hours, the tennis player’s lawyers recounted in detail the eight hours that Djokovic spent at Melbourne airport after his arrival from Dubai, during which he was practically incommunicado.
Officials made him turn off his phone from midnight to around 7.42 am local time, when the decision was made to cancel his visa, detailed the tennis player’s legal team.
Commonwealth government barrister Christopher Tran pointed out that the relevant law around risk to the community had been amended so that now “one doesn’t even have to be a risk. One might present a risk.”
The hearing was set to continue on Monday afternoon after disruptions and delays.
Djokovic has repeatedly refused to publicly state whether he is inoculated against the coronavirus, but said last year that he is personally opposed to vaccinations in general and is against vaccine mandates.
He is fighting deportation so that he can be entered into the draw for the Australian Open, which begins on Jan. 17. If he wins it would represent his 21st Grand Slam – a record – and his 10th title in the tournament. EFE