Australian government seeks to reject ‘unvaccinated’ Djokovic visa case – Reuters

The 34-year-old vaccine skeptic has never revealed his Covid-19 vaccination status



By AFP

Published: Sun Jan 9 2022 6:59 PM

The Australian government said on Sunday that tennis world number one Novak Djokovic was not vaccinated against Covid-19 and that his legal battle to stay in the country should be dropped.

The 34-year-old Serb is fighting to overturn his shock visa cancellation so he can be released from a Melbourne detention center and aim for a tenth victory at the Australian Open, which begins on January 17.

Federal court judge Anthony Kelly convened an online hearing to decide the case at 10 a.m. Monday (2300 GMT Sunday), in a court drama that has gripped tennis fans around the world.

Djokovic, a publicly declared skeptic of the vaccine, has never revealed his Covid-19 vaccination status.

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But in a 13-page court filing made public on Sunday, Australian government lawyers said it was a matter of “common ground” between the two sides in the legal fight that Djokovic “is unvaccinated”.

Unvaccinated people are at greater risk of spreading Covid-19 to others and overburdening the healthcare system, they said.

Djokovic thought he had a Covid-19 vaccination exemption when he flew to Australia on Wednesday on the grounds that he had tested positive for the virus on December 16, 2021.

But the country’s vaccination exemption form states that previous infection “is not a contraindication to vaccination”, lawyers for Home Secretary Karen Andrews have stressed.

They also rejected a separate argument that Djokovic was treated unfairly because he was forced to let a border agent make a decision on his visa without giving him more time to rest and consult with his lawyers.

In fact, they said, the player had had a long opportunity to take his case to the border agent and he had previously contacted his lawyers.

“The application must be dismissed with costs,” concluded the government party.

But even if the judge sided with Djokovic, he would have to limit himself to overturning the visa cancellation, the lawyers said, and it would still be open to border control to make “another cancellation decision”.

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