Novak Djokovic was granted a vaccine exemption to enter Australia because he contracted Covid-19 last month, his lawyers have claimed.
In court documents published on Saturday, it is stated that the Serbian recorded a positive test on December 16, and has “not had a fever or respiratory symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 72 hours”.
Djokovic has been detained at an immigration facility in Melbourne since Thursday morning after his visa was cancelled following scrutiny of the medical exemption he had secured to travel to the first tennis major of the year.
According to his legal team, Djokovic was also provided with a letter from the Chief Medical Officer of Tennis Australia recording he had a medical exemption from Covid vaccination.
It is claimed that the exemption certificate was “provided by an Independent Expert Medical Review panel commissioned by Tennis Australia”, and that “the decision of that panel had been reviewed and endorsed by an independent Medical Exemptions Review Panel of the Victorian State Government”.
Djokovic’s lawyers added that he was granted an “Australian Travel Declaration” because he was told by the authorities that [he met] the requirements for a quarantine-free arrival into Australia”.
Djokovic, a nine-time Australian Open winner, must wait for a hearing on Monday to discover his fate.
On Friday, it emerged that two other people connected to the tournament have joined Djokovic in being instructed to leave the country by the Australian Border Force.
One of the individuals is Czech doubles specialist Renata Voracova, who played in a warm-up tournament in Melbourne this week but has now opted to leave Australia.
Djokovic, 34, is under instruction to stay at Melbourne’s Park Hotel, which is used to house asylum seekers and refugees, before Monday’s hearing.
He broke his silence on Instagram, saying: “Thank you to people around the world for your continuous support. I can feel it and it is greatly appreciated.”
His wife Jelena also took to social media to express her gratitude to the player’s fans for their backing.
In Instagram and Twitter posts, Jelena Djokovic wrote: “Thank you dear people, all around the world for using your voice to send love to my husband.
“I am taking a deep breath to calm down and find gratitude (and understanding) in this moment for all that is happening.
“The only law that we should all respect across every single border is Love and respect for another human being.
“Love and forgiveness is never a mistake but a powerful force. Wishing you all well!”
Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, who has been a fierce critic of Djokovic on many matters, weighed in on Twitter to call for his country to “do better” in its treatment of the 20-time major champion.
The world number 93 wrote: “Look I definitely believe in taking action, I got vaccinated because of others and for my mums health, but how we are handling Novak’s situation is bad, really bad.
“Like these memes, headlines, this is one of our great champions but at the end of the day, he is human. Do better.”
Djokovic’s father claimed the world number one has been made a scapegoat and “crucified” in the row.