Djokovic had COVID-19, court papers reveal

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  • Novak Djokovic
    Novak Djokovic
    Serbian tennis player

Tennis world No.1 Novak Djokovic had COVID-19 less than a month before arriving in Melbourne, where he told Australian Border Force officials he was not vaccinated.

The details were revealed on Saturday as the 34-year-old Serb faced a third night in immigration detention after having his visa revoked by the federal government.

"Mr Djokovic had received, on 30 December 2021, a letter from the Chief Medical Officer of Tennis Australia recording that he had been provided with a 'medical exemption from COVID vaccination' on the ground that he had recently recovered from COVID," the Federal Court documents read.

"The date of the first positive COVID PCR test was recorded on 16 December 2021."

The papers went on to outline that Djokovic had no recent fever or respiratory symptoms of COVID-19 a fortnight after his diagnosis.

One of the documents outlined an interview between Djokovic and Border Force officials. A partial transcript of that interview included "you have stated you are not vaccinated against COVID-19".

When Djokovic landed in Melbourne late on Wednesday, he was detained and questioned before his visa was revoked and the tennis star was taken to immigration detention.

Djokovic's matter is due back in court on Monday when lawyers will attempt to overturn the federal government's deportation order.

The tennis champion's argument is expected to focus partly on guidance provided by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).

"COVID-19 vaccination in people who have had PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection can be deferred for a maximum of six months after the acute illness, as a temporary exemption due to acute major medical illness," the court documents cite from ATAGI vaccination advice.

Djokovic is staying at the Park Hotel in Melbourne's inner north, known for housing refugees flown from Manus Island and Nauru.

He has said nothing about the conditions in the hotel, but has posted on Instagram for the first time since he arrived in Australia.

"Thank you to people around the world for your continuous support. I can feel it and it is greatly appreciated," Djokovic wrote.

Serbia's foreign affairs ministry hit out at Australia's decision to cancel Djokovic's visa, saying the star was the victim of a political game.

In a statement, Serbian state secretary Nemanja Starovic said the Serbian government did not want to influence the upcoming court case in Australia but wanted Djokovic to be moved to better accommodation in the meantime.

"The Serbian public has a strong impression that Djokovic is a victim of a political game against his will, and that he was lured to travel to Australia in order to be humiliated," the ministry statement said.

"Novak Djokovic is not a criminal, terrorist or illegal migrant, but he was treated that way by the Australian authorities, which causes understandable indignation of his fans and citizens of Serbia."

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said Djokovic was not being held captive in Australia.

"He is free to leave at any time that he chooses to do so, and Border Force will facilitate that," she told ABC News.

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