Djokovic had no guarantee of entry to Australia, government says

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The Australian government had failed to give tennis star Novak Djokovic assurances that a medical exemption under which he should have entered Australia without the Covid-19 vaccination would be accepted, government lawyers said in a report on Sunday. criminal record.

The case filed before a court hearing on Monday defended the government’s decision to ban entry to the world’s number one player because of his Covid-19 vaccination status.

Djokovic hopes to win his 21st Grand Slam at the Australian Open, which kicks off in Melbourne on January 17.

But instead of training, the Serbian player has been confined to a hotel used for asylum seekers and is challenging the decision to cancel his visa after being arrested upon arriving at Melbourne airport early Thursday.

The drama rocked world tennis, sparked tensions between Serbia and Australia and became a flashpoint for opponents of vaccine mandates around the world.

Himself a staunch opponent of vaccination warrants, Djokovic had refused to reveal his vaccination status or the reason he had requested a medical exemption from Australian vaccination rules. But his legal team said in a court filing on Saturday that the player was granted a waiver due to having the virus in December.

Djokovic’s legal team said he had the necessary permits to enter Australia, including an Home Office assessment that responses on his travel declaration form indicated that he qualified for an arrival without quarantine. The government challenged that.

“This is because there is no assurance of entry of a non-national into Australia. Rather, there are criteria and conditions for entry, and reasons for refusal or cancellation. of a visa “, indicates the file of the government.

He said the ministry’s email was no assurance “that his so-called” medical exemption “would be accepted,” and his responses could be queried and verified upon arrival.

The government also challenged Djokovic’s request for medical exemption on the grounds that he had contracted Covid-19 and recovered two weeks later.

“There is no indication that the applicant suffered from an ‘acute and serious illness’ in December 2021. All he said was that he tested positive for Covid-19. It is not the same, “the file says.

Australia said its health department informed the host organization of the Tennis Australia tournament in November that a recent Covid-19 infection was not necessarily grounds for exemption in the country, as is the case elsewhere. Djokovic’s trial indicates that the Interior Ministry wrote to him this month to tell him that he had met the requirements to enter the country.

Djokovic’s lawyers will have up to two hours to present their case starting at 10:00 a.m. (11:00 p.m. GMT Sunday) on Monday, while the government department will have two hours to present its defense from 3:00 p.m. The case is heard by the Federal Circuit and Family Court. .

Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said in his first media interview since the fury started that his organization had spoken with federal and state officials for months to ensure the safe passage of players.

“Mainly because there is (so) a lot of conflicting information all the time, every week we were talking to Home Affairs, we were talking to all parts of the government to make sure that … we were doing the right thing and ( next) the right process with those exemptions, ”Tiley told Channel Nine television.

“The conflicting information and the conflicting information we received was due to the changing environment. We are in a difficult environment.”

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham, when asked about the matter on Channel 9 television, said without referring directly to Djokovic that “there is a clear difference between visas and entry requirements” and “the conditions for entry. entry… in addition to visa requirements ”.

Czech player Renata Voracova, who was held in the same detention hotel as Djokovic and whose visa was revoked after problems with her vaccine exemption, left the country without contesting her status, the Czech Ministry of Affairs said. foreigners.

The player has drawn strong support at home. Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on Saturday that Djokovic had received gluten-free foods, tools for exercise and a SIM card to stay in touch with the outside world.

“It’s a positive tone from the Australian side. The Serbian government is ready to provide all the guarantees necessary for Novak to be allowed to enter Australia, the Serbian president is also involved,” Brnabic said.

(REUTERS)

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