Tennis star Novak Djokovic had a vaccine exemption to enter Australia after a Covid infection on 16 December, his lawyers say in court documents.
Djokovic was denied entry to Australia after landing in Melbourne this week to play in the Australian Open.
The world’s top ranked tennis player is currently in an immigration detention centre ahead of a court case on Monday.
His case has caused a huge outcry in Australia and made waves around the world.
Djokovic, 34, who has said he is opposed to vaccination, had been granted a medical exemption to play in the tournament in a decision that infuriated many ordinary Australians.
But the Serbian was dramatically denied entry on landing.
On Wednesday, Australian Border Force (ABF) officials said the player had “failed to provide appropriate evidence” at Melbourne Airport because a prior infection was not a valid reason to enter without a vaccination.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison later confirmed that this was the case under federal rules – despite an endorsement by the Victorian state government.
Why Djokovic is a polarising player
In court documents released on Saturday, Djokovic’s lawyers said the player had been granted a temporary visa to enter the country and provided with a “medical exemption from Covid vaccination” by Tennis Australia because of his recent infection.
The documents state that an exemption certificate recorded that 14 days after testing positive in December, the player “had not had a fever or respiratory symptoms of Covid-19 in the last 72 hours”.
There had been no prior announcement of his infection.
Djokovic’s exemption was given by two independent medical panels organised by Tennis Australia, the body that runs the event, and Victoria state.
His lawyers said the star was in immigration clearance at Melbourne Airport for about eight hours after he arrived, and that he had little communication with them during that period.
They have also asked that the star, who remains in the immigration detention hotel that has often been criticised by refugees for its poor conditions, be moved to “a more suitable place of detention” that would allow him to train ahead of the Australian Open.
Australia’s pandemic border rules ban foreigners from entering the country if they are not either double vaccinated or have a medical exemption from having the jabs.
While foreigners can fly in to Australia on a visa applied for online, they must still clear immigration customs on arrival at the airport. (BBC)