Jan 8, 2022 - Sports

Novak Djokovic's lawyers say he contracted COVID-19 in December

Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits a return to Marin Cilic of Croatia during the 2021 Davis Cup Finals semifinal in Madrid on Dec. 3. Photo: Meng Dingbo/Xinhua via Getty Images

Lawyers for Novak Djokovic said in a court filing Saturday that the tennis star received a medical exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine and could play in the Australian Open because he had tested positive for the virus in December.

Driving the news: The court filing comes as Djokovic quarantines in a hotel in Melbourne after being denied entry into Australia. Border authorities said that they canceled Djokovic's visa because he failed to provide "appropriate evidence" for his medical exemption from vaccine requirement.

Djokovic's lawyers said that he received a medical exemption on Dec. 30 from the chief medical officer of Tennis Australia "on the grounds that he had recently recovered from COVID," per the court document published by Australia's Federal Circuit.

  • Djokovic, who tested positive for the virus on Dec. 16, believed that the conditions of the exemption were aligned with the recommendations of Australia’s immunization advisory body, the lawyers argued.
  • "Mr. Djokovic understood that he was entitled to enter Australia and Victoria and to compete in the Australian Tennis Open."
  • Djokovic has a hearing scheduled for Monday on his appeal of the government's decision to revoke the decision.
  • Djokovic, who said in June 2020 that he had tested positive for COVID-19, had not previously disclosed his December positive test result, per the New York Times.

What they're saying: The lawyers argued that Australian authorities "radically and fundamentally" misapplied guidance from Australia’s immunization advisory body about whether an infection within the past six months should offer an exemption from the vaccination requirement.

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