Novak Djokovic attended at least two publicity events in the days after he claims to have tested positive to COVID-19.
The tennis champion’s movements are under scrutiny as his lawyers prepare to argue he recovered from COVID-19 before travelling to Australia and met the prescribed requirements for a vaccination exemption.
Watch the video above to see the Tennis Australia boss publicly address the saga for the first time
The 34-year-old Serb remains in immigration detention in Melbourne after having his visa cancelled by the federal government.
His case returns to court on Monday, with Djokovic fighting for the right to remain in the country and the chance to retain his Australian Open title.
Documents released by the Federal Court on Saturday show Djokovic contracted COVID-19 on December 16 and was free from symptoms ahead of his arrival in Australia on Wednesday.
“The visa holder (Djokovic) stated that Tennis Australia facilitated his medical exemption from COVID-19 vaccination requirement and completed the Australian Travel Declaration on his behalf,” a Home Affairs representative said, as quoted in court papers.
“I consider that Tennis Australia would have facilitated his medical exemption and Australian Travel Declaration based on information (Djokovic) provided to them.
“As such, I don’t consider these constitute extenuating circumstances beyond (Djokovic’s) control.
“I apply significant weight in favour of visa cancellation for this factor.”
The tennis champion’s lawyer will argue that he met the criteria for a temporary exemption under the guidelines of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).
Furthermore, it will be argued that he was denied procedural fairness during the decision to revoke his visa.
Court documents cite the ATAGI advice, including: “COVID-19 vaccination in people who have had PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection can be deferred for a maximum of six months after the acute illness, as a temporary exemption due to acute major medical illness”.
Djokovic provided evidence that he was diagnosed with COVID-19 on December 16.
According to social media posts, Djokovic attended an event at the Novak Tennis Centre in Belgrade where he took part in a panel discussion on December 17.
The topic of the discussion was, “the role and establishment of authority in the development of character and discipline”, said an Instagram post by the Novak Djokovic Foundation, a charity which is eponymous with its founder.
“Yesterday, as part of our ‘Path of a Champion’ program, we organized a panel discussion at Novak Tennis Center on the topic, ‘the role and establishment of authority in the development of character and discipline,” said the posted dated December 18, 2021 (AEDT).
“Speakers at the panel were Sonja Vasic (@sonjavasic5), Zeljko Obradovic and Novak Djokovic (@djokernole).”
Social media posts on December 18 (AEDT) reveal Djokovic and his wife Jelena attended the Serbian National Postal Service for a tour before he was presented with postage stamps bearing his image.
“An honor to receive my very own Serbian stamp,” Djokovic said on Instagram on December 18.
“Thank you to my generous country for this rare gift! I’m humbled!!
“Excited to share we’ll partner with the Serbian National Postal Service on @novakfoundation projects for every child to have the opportunity to attend preschool.
“Gratitude for everyone that brought this together. Now (Jelena) and I will take some stamps home for the kids to write to Santa.”
Jelena Djokovic also posted about he event on the day.
“Congratulations amore! I was so proud to be there with you!” she said on Twitter.
“How great is to be able to send a letter with Novak all over? I can imagine a few of you rushing to find a way to get it.
“Thank you Serbian National Postal Service for the museum tour, we had a great time learning something about the past and also remembering some of our old telephones and mobile devices.”
Multiple other people attended both events and Djokovic was not wearing a mask, social media photos show.
After his arrival on Wednesday evening, the court papers show Djokovic had a sleepless night as he was questioned by authorities at times including 4am, before the visa revocation at 7.42am.
A partial transcript of that interview included “you have stated you are not vaccinated against COVID-19”.
Djokovic has previously declined to confirm his vaccination status.
“Mr Djokovic had received, on 30 December 2021, a letter from the Chief Medical Officer of Tennis Australia recording that he had been provided with a ‘medical exemption from COVID vaccination’ on the ground that he had recently recovered from COVID,” the court documents read.
In a letter leaked to media, Tennis Australia rejected that players were knowingly misled, insisting organisers had followed “instructions”.
Meanwhile, it’s emerged Djokovic could be barred from Australia for up to three years if he fails to have his visa cancellation overturned and gets deported.
In an emailed response to the Associated Press about what could transpire if Djokovic loses his legal fight, the Australian Border Force said: “A person whose visa has been canceled may be subject to a three-year exclusion period that prevents the grant of a further temporary visa.”
“The exclusion period will be considered as part of any new visa application and can be waived in certain circumstances, noting each case is assessed on its own merits.”