Novak Djokovic held in immigration hotel in Australia over vax status
‘The Five’ panelists react to tennis champion Novak Djokovic being held up in a hotel over his vaccination status.
Novak Djokovic tested positive for COVID-19 in December and recovered, circumstances he used in applying for a medical exemption to skirt Australia’s strict vaccination rules and play in the Australian Open, the tennis star’s lawyers revealed in court filings Saturday.
Djokovic was denied entry into Melbourne and placed in a hotel where the country holds refugees and those seeking asylum. Australian border officials canceled his visa for failing to meet the requirement that all noncitizens be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, the Australian Open defending champion, waits at an Australian Border Force desk on his arrival at Melbourne Airport Jan. 5, 2022.
A mural depicting Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic on a wall in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022.
(AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
According to multiple reports, Djokovic received a letter from Tennis Australia’s chief medical officer Dec. 30 “recording that he had been provided with a ‘medical exemption from COVID vaccination’ on the grounds that he had recently recovered from COVID.”
The exemption certification said the date of the first positive test was Dec. 16, “and that he had not had a fever or respiratory symptoms in the past 72 hours.” Two days prior, he was seen at a EuroLeague basketball game hugging several players.
Djokovic thanked his supporters in a message on social media Friday.
Novak Djokovic of Serbia motions and looks up after defeating Matteo Berrettini of Italy during the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Sept. 9, 2021, in New York.
(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
“Thank you to the people around the world for your continuous support. I can feel it and it is greatly appreciated,” the statement said.
Djokovic is tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer with 20 major men’s tennis titles. Djokovic, who was allowed in Australia last year to play the Open, has won the tournament nine times.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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