Novak Djokovic's Lawyers Claim Vaccine Exemption from December COVID-19 Case

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 8, 2022

Serbia's Novak Djokovic serves the ball to Croatia's Marin Cilic during their Davis Cup tennis semi-final match at Madrid Arena in Madrid, Spain, Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
AP Photo/Bernat Armangue

The medical exemption world No. 1 men's tennis player Novak Djokovic initially received to play in the 2022 Australian Open was granted because he had recently tested positive for COVID-19.

The BBC reported that Djokovic's lawyers said in court documents released Saturday that he returned a positive COVID-19 test on Dec. 16.

Per ESPN, Djokovic's lawyers also said the 20-time Grand Slam singles champion was experiencing no symptoms 14 days after testing positive.

Djokovic arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday, but his visa was canceled after it was determined that he did not meet the vaccination requirements for a non-citizen to enter the country.

Djokovic has since been detained in Australia, and he will appear in Federal Circuit Court on Monday to appeal the decision.

On Tuesday, Djokovic announced that he had received an exemption to enter Australia for the year's first Grand Slam:

Novak Djokovic @DjokerNole

Happy New Year! Wishing you all health, love &amp; joy in every moment &amp; may you feel love &amp; respect towards all beings on this wonderful planet.<br><br>I’ve spent fantastic quality time with loved ones over break &amp; today I’m heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let’s go 2022! <a href="https://t.co/e688iSO2d4">pic.twitter.com/e688iSO2d4</a>

The exemption was confirmed by tournament organizers, who wrote in a statement:

"Djokovic applied for a medical exemption which was granted following a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts.

"One of those was the Independent Medical Exemption Review Panel appointed by the Victorian Department of Health. They assessed all applications to see if they met the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation guidelines."

Per ESPN, the exemption Djokovic received came from the Victoria State Government and Australian Open organizers, but border authorities denied the reigning men's champion entry.

Djokovic's father, Srdjan, said the following to reporters in Belgrade, Serbia, on Thursday: "They're keeping him in captivity. They're stomping all over Novak to stomp all over Serbia and Serbian people."

If Djokovic is permitted to play in the Australian Open, he will be in search of his fourth consecutive Australian Open title.

A win would also break a tie with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most career men's Grand Slam singles titles in the Open Era.

The Australian Open is scheduled to run from Jan. 17-30.