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7 January 2022

Tennis No. 1 Novak Djokovic has launched legal action on Jan. 6 against the Australian government over his alleged failure to satisfy Australian COVID exemptions.

The Serbian tennis star was expected to play in the Australian Open on Jan. 17; however, the Australian government has rejected his visa because he failed to produce evidence of vaccination against Covid-19, 9 News reported.

Djokovic had previously been granted a medical exemption by Tennis Australia and the Victorian government to play in Melbourne, the BBC reported.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison initially deflected federal responsibility to Victoria over the admission of an unvaccinated tennis player, during what the BBC referred to as Australia’s worst wave of Covid-19 since the pandemic started.

The outrage from the decision led the federal government to backtrack and overrule Victoria, detaining Djokovic upon his arrival on Jan. 5, Reuters reported.

Valid exemptions include severe reactions to a dose of the COVID vaccine, serious medical conditions, and contracting COVID-19 in the last six months, with Djokovic applying under the last exemption, the ABC reported.

The Australian Border Force issued a statement that Djokovic did not meet entry requirements, stating that “Non-citizens who do not hold a valid visa on entry or who have had their visa cancelled will be detained and removed from Australia,”

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt told Tennis Australia Nov. 29 that previously contracting Covid-19 would not be a valid exemption, the ABC reported.

Djokovic lodged a case in the Federal Circuit Court to overturn the government’s decision, according to 9 News.

Djokovic did not appear before the court on Jan. 6, his lawyer Nick Wood SC was present, and both Wood SC and Christopher Tran, the Department of Home Affair’s lawyer, agreed to the decision by Judge Anthony Kelly to issue an injunction that would allow Djokovic to await in immigration detention until the case is resolved, 7 News reported.

Djokovic claims that he has a valid exemption, although it appears that the exemption may only be valid for the Australian Open, rather than entering Australia’s borders, 7 News reported.

Serbian President Alexsandar Vucic has expressed his anger over Australia’s decision.

The hearing will resume on Jan. 10.

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Stuart Jeffery, aka LibertyDownUnder, is the founder of the Australian Liberty Network. He is also the host of the Gumtree of Liberty and Gumtree of Liberty Live podcasts, and is editor of the Liberty Review. Stuart is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts, majoring in international relations, at the University of Southern Queensland.

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