Australia Renegs on Djokovic Agreement Court Battle looms


The Australian government hit back hard at the assertion of tennis star Novak Djokovic that he was assured entry with a medical exemption from coronavirus vaccine requirements, pointing out in court papers filed Sunday that no foreigner has a guaranteed right to enter the country.

“There is no such thing as an assurance of entry by a non-citizen into Australia. Rather, there are criteria and conditions for entry, and reasons for refusal or cancellation of a visa,” the government said in a filing ahead of a court hearing on the case on Monday.

Djokovic, the world number one, is hoping to win his 21st Grand Slam at the Australian Open, which starts in Melbourne on Jan. 17. But instead of training, the Serbian player has been confined in a hotel used for asylum seekers and is challenging the decision to cancel his visa after being stopped on arrival at Melbourne Airport early on Thursday.

Djokovic, a vocal opponent of COVID-19 vaccine mandates, said in a filing to the court on Saturday that he been granted an exemption from vaccination due to having had the virus in December.

His lawyers said he had the necessary permissions to enter Australia, including an assessment from the Department of Home Affairs that responses on his travel declaration form indicated he met the conditions for quarantine-free arrival. The government disputed this.

It said the department’s email was not an assurance “that his so-called ‘medical exemption’ would be accepted”, and his responses could be questioned and verified on his arrival.

The government also challenged Djokovic’s claim for a medical exemption on the basis he had contracted COVID-19 in mid-December and had recovered two weeks later.

“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. This is not the same,” the filing said.

Australia rushes to file defence of Djokovic ban as court battle looms  Reuters


Dean Nestor

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