Novak Djokovic attempted to use a previous COVID-19 diagnosis to receive a medical exemption to play in the Australian Open, according to the Associated Press.
Djokovic reportedly had COVID-19 in December, according to court papers filed by his lawyers. The Victoria state government allows medical exemptions for people who tested positive for COVID-19 in the last six months. That’s why Djokovic received a medical exemption to play in the Australian Open. The event is hosted in Victoria, one of six states in the country.
Border authorities, however, did not accept Djokovic’s previous COVID-19 diagnosis as an acceptable reason for a medical exemption, leading to Djokovic being detained and his visa being canceled. Djokovic and his lawyers are currently fighting that ruling so Djokovic can take part in the Australian Open, which begins Jan. 17. A judge will have to determine whether local Victoria policies supersede policies set by Australia’s federal government.
The Victoria state government confirmed Djokovic’s medical exemption and allowed him access to Melbourne Park, where the Australian Open is held. It did not guarantee Djokovic would be allowed into the country.
Some of the confusion is reportedly due to Tennis Australia, which runs the Australian Open. Tennis Australia reportedly gave incorrect information to players and staff regarding acceptable exemptions, according to the Associated Press. That could explain why Djokovic believed his exemption for his previous COVID-19 diagnosis would apply at the Australian border.
If Djokovic’s appeal fails, and his visa remains canceled, he could face a three-year ban from Australia, the Australian Border Force told the Associated Press.