After being refused entry on Wednesday 5 January to participate in the Australian Open, the tennis player said he could benefit from a medical exemption without saying more. Turnaround on Saturday 8: he would have contracted Covid-19 recently and “The date of the first positive Covid PCR test was recorded on December 16, 2021”, which would give the Serbian world number 1 an exemption from the vaccination imposed by Australia, lawyers for the Serbian player, 34, said in a document filed in federal court. His appeal is due to be considered on Monday.
→ EXPLANATION Novak Djokovic, vaccination and Australia: the reasons for a diplomatic incident
Time is running out with just over a week of the Australian Open which Djokovic has won nine times and where he aims to win his 21e Grand Slam tournament, which would place him at the top of tennis history, ahead of his two historic rivals, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. His lawyers have also asked that he be able to leave the Melbourne detention center to be able to train.
The Australian tennis federation defends itself
In a video that leaked to the local press on Friday, Australian Federation boss Craig Tiley, under fire for his handling of the case, defended the ” amazing work “ of its teams. The Federation has been accused of misleading players about vaccination obligations.
In a note to players published by several Australian media, the organization assured that a person who recently contracted Covid-19 could benefit from an exemption from the obligation to be fully vaccinated. Novak Djokovic has always refused to communicate on his vaccination status, while not concealing his hostility to vaccination.
→ ANALYSIS. The Djokovic case raises the question of the vaccination status of athletes
The Australian government has assured to have warned Tennis Australia in November that this provision was only valid for Australian residents, not for foreign citizens wishing to enter the country.
Another player, Czech Renata Voracova, was placed in the same detention center as Novak Djokovic after also having her visa canceled.
The boss of Tennis Australia explains that the Federation has chosen not to speak publicly because of the appeal of Djokovic who Friday, for his first reaction, thanked in a short message on social networks his supporters around the world, as well than “God for health”.
In Serbia, the treatment inflicted on the idol of the whole country aroused the indignation and intervention of President Aleksandar Vucic.
Uncertainties for the next tournaments
The Australian imbroglio is already asking questions about the rest of his season, especially in the United States, starting with Indian Wells and Miami in the spring. The vaccine is compulsory to cross the American border.
→ EXPLANATION. Covid-19: what we know about the consequences for athletes
The next Grand Slam tournament is Roland-Garros in the spring. French Minister of Sports Roxana Maracineanu, on the other hand, estimated that “the health protocols imposed for major sporting events” would allow Novak Djokovic to enter France.