Djokovic did not have guaranteed entry to Australia - government legal filing

Tennis - ATP Cup - Ken Rosewall Arena, Sydney, Australia - January 12, 2020 Serbia's Novak Djokovic in action during his Final singles match against Spain's Rafael Nadal REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

SYDNEY, Jan 9 (Reuters) - The Australian government had not given tennis star Novak Djokovic an assurance that a medical exemption he said he had to enter Australia without COVID-19 vaccination would be accepted, government lawyers said in a court filing ahead of a hearing on Monday.

Djokovic's legal team has said the Serbian player had an assessment from the Department of Home Affairs that his responses on his Australia Traveller Declaration indicated he met the requirements for quarantine-free entry into the country.

But the government's submission, released late on Sunday night, said the department's email was not an assurance "that his so-called 'medical exemption' would be accepted", and his responses could be questioned and verified on his arrival.

The government submission also challenged Djokovic's claim for a medical exemption from Australia's vaccination requirements on the basis he contracted COVID-19 in mid-December.

"There is no suggestion that the applicant had "acute major medical illness" in December 2021. All he has said is that he tested positive for COVID-19," the government submission said.

Djokovic is hoping to win his 21st Grand Slam at the Australian Open, starting in Melbourne on Jan. 17. But instead of training he has been confined to a hotel used to accommodate asylum seekers. He is challenging the decision to cancel his visa after being stopped on arrival at Melbourne Airport early on Thursday. read more

Reporting by John Mair Editing by Frances Kerry

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