Novak Djokovic tested positive for Covid-19 for a second time in December, which allows him to get a medical exemption to enter Australia, his lawyers have claimed.
In court documents published Saturday, Djokovic’s legal team say the world No. 1 tested positive on December 16 and had been symptom free for more than 72 hours 14 days later. The lawyers also say that Djokovic had received a document from Australia’s Department of Home Affairs "informing him that he met the requirements for quarantine-free arrival.”
That forms the key argument in Djokovic’s appeal against a decision by federal border officials to cancel his visa after he travelled to Melbourne on Wednesday to play in the Australian Open. The border officials said Djokovic did not provide sufficient evidence to back up his medical exemption, which had been granted by the Victoria state government.
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However, Tennis Australia documents showed that the deadline for applying for a medical exemption to compete in the Grand Slam tournament was December 10 -- six days before Djokovic claims he tested positive. And the Novak Djokovic Foundation posted photos and a video on December 17 of Djokovic taking part in a panel discussion at the Novak Tennis Center the previous day.
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The Serb is now stuck in a Melbourne detention hotel as his legal team seeks to overturn the decision, although he has been told he is free to leave the country.
Australia’s entry requirements state that all non-citizens must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, but individuals who tested positive in the last six months can be deemed exempt.
Djokovic also tested positive in June last year after organizing a series of exhibition matches.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion spoke out for the first time on Friday by sending a message to fans on social media.
"Thank you to people around the world for your continuous support,” he wrote on Instagram Stories.
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“I can feel it and it is greatly appreciated."
Djokovic’s lawyers said the Serb has also requested to be moved ”to a more suitable place of detention” that would enable him to train and prepare for the Australian Open, which begins on January 17.
Djokovic, a nine-time Australian Open champion, is still hoping to play in the event and have a chance of breaking the record of 20 Grand Slam titles that he shares with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
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