From Getting Medical Exemption to Being Detained, Then Released in a Dramatic Way: The Novak Djokovic Saga

Sports


It has been a dramatic one week for men’s tennis world number one player Novak Djokovic, his fans and the Australian Open organisers. However, on Monday, the Serb scored a massive victory, albeit in a different court, to keep his hopes of a record-extending 10th Australian Open title alive. Djokovic successfully challenged the Australian Government’s decision to cancel his visa, which paved the way for him to remain in the country and contest for the year’s first Grand Slam.

However, the victory was not easy for Novak, who had to remain in a detention centre for four days after undergoing rigorous eight-hour grilling at the hands of the Australian border force.

Monday’s ruling is, however, is not insurmountable. Australia’s immigration minister will now determine Djokovic’s fate, Alex Hawke, due to his power to again cancel the visa and deport the world’s No 1 male tennis player.

The Serb has started his training for the Grand Slam, which begins in six days, but his dream hung in the balance. In the latest twist in the tennis star’s visa cancellation saga, the Australian Border Force is investigating whether Djokovic incorrectly declared he had not travelled and would not do so for two weeks before his flight to Australia.

According to Tennis Australia documents, the deadline for applying for a medical exemption from vaccination to compete at the Australian Open was December 10 — six days before Djokovic’s positive test result. So, the only way he could have used his Covid infection to get it was if the deadline was waived for him.

HOW THE DRAMA UNFOLDED – TIMELINE

2020: Novak Djokovic Openly Opposes Vaccination

The world number one has been one of the most vocal anti-vax global superstars. In 2020 itself, he said he ‘wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine to be able to travel’.

OCTOBER 2021

Victorian Government announced that all professional athletes must be double-jabbed to gain entry to the country.

DECEMBER 16, 2021

According to a court filing, Novak Djokovic first Covid-positive PCR test was recorded on December 16, 2021, after which he applied for a medical exemption.

DECEMBER 17, 2021

Djokovic was photographed without a mask presenting trophies to young tennis players at the Novak Tennis Centre in Belgrade.

DECEMBER 18, 2021

French newspaper L’Equipe claim Novak Djokovic took part in their Champion of Champions awards photo shoot.

DECEMBER 30, 2021

The Serb was granted his exemption on December 30, according to a letter from the Chief Medical Officer of Tennis Australia.

JANUARY 4, 2022

The Serb posts a picture of himself on social media boarding a flight and reveals: ‘Today I’m heading Down Under with exemption permission.’

JANUARY 5, 2022

Djokovic lands at Tullamarine airport in Melbourne and is held for around nine hours by the Australian Border Force. His exemption is withdrawn, his visa is cancelled, and he transferred to a state-run immigration facility.

JANUARY 6, 2022

Fans gather outside the hotel where Djokovic is being held to protest. Djokovic’s parents label the facility a ‘prison’. Djokovic’s father compares his son to Jesus.

JANUARY 7, 2022

Novak Djokovic breaks his silence and thanked his fans for their support.

JANUARY 8, 2022

Court documents reveal Djokovic registered a positive Covid test on December 16 — which forms the basis of his exemption.

JANUARY 10, 2022

The judge hearing Djokovic’s appeal orders his release — overturning the visa cancellation.

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