Novak Djokovic: All the questions that need answering

Why didn’t Novak Djokovic isolate after testing positive for Covid? And how did he apply for a medical exemption on time? All the questions that need answering amid the chaos surrounding the world No 1 Down Under

  • Novak Djokovic earned a big win in his battle with the Australian Government  
  • The World No 1 successfully challenged the decision to cancel his visa
  • However, a lot of questions still need answering amid the chaos Down Under
  • Sportsmail provides a run down of those questions, plus a timeline of events 

Novak Djokovic earned a seismic win on Monday after the World No 1 successfully challenged the Australian Government’s decision to cancel his visa, paving the way for him to play in the Australian Open after five days of chaotic bureaucracy.

However, questions surrounding the specifics behind the Serbian’s medical exemption remain, while Australia’s Immigration Minister is considering whether to deport the tennis superstar.

Here, Sportsmail’s David Coverdale provides all the questions that need answering, alongside a timeline of how the chaos unfolded Down Under. 

 A number of questions surrounding Novak Djokovic remain amid the Covid chaos in Australia

How did Djokovic apply for an exemption on time if he only tested positive on December 16?

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.

The Serb was granted his exemption on December 30 and the only way he could have used his Covid infection to get it was if the deadline was waived for him.

For what reason could he get an exemption without having Covid?

Given Djokovic admitted in April 2020 he was ‘opposed to vaccination’ and had subsequently not been jabbed, he was always going to need an exemption to be allowed to defend his Australian Open title without having to quarantine in a hotel for 14 days.

The Serb was able to apply for a medical exemption after the December 10 deadline passed 

Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley said last week that reasons for exemptions included previous adverse response to vaccines, recent major surgery or myocarditis or certified evidence of a Covid infection in the previous six months. Had Djokovic not tested positive, it is unclear how he would have gained an exemption.

Why was he not isolating after his positive test result?

Djokovic took a PCR test at 1pm on December 16 and received his positive result seven hours later. In Serbia, you are legally required to isolate for 14 days after testing positive. 

However, on the day he was tested, Djokovic attended a panel discussion and a ceremony for the unveiling of a stamp in his honour in Belgrade, which he posted about on Twitter. 

He must also explain why he was not self-isolating after he tested positive on December 16

The following day, he was photographed without a mask presenting trophies to young tennis players at the Novak Tennis Centre in Belgrade. On December 18, French newspaper L’Equipe claim he took part in their Champion of Champions awards photo shoot. 

All of these incidents appear to break Serbian law, for which he could be fined. Djokovic’s brother Djordje shut down Monday’s press conference when asked about the world No 1’s movements in the days following his positive test. Adding to the intrigue is a QR code on Djokovic’s positive test document.

When scanned, it sometimes takes users to a website showing a negative result.

Will he even be allowed to play at the Australian Open?

Despite the court win on Monday, it is still unclear if he will definitely be in the draw for next week’s tournament. 

A spokesman for immigration minister Alex Hawke said he was considering using the discretionary powers he is given by Australia’s Migration Act to again revoke Djokovic’s visa.

Despite his court win, it is still not known whether Djokovic will play at the Australian Open

HOW THE DRAMA UNFOLDED – TIMELINE

2020

Novak Djokovic publicly declares he is ‘opposed to vaccination’ and ‘wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel’. He was slammed in the summer for organising his own tournament, the Adria Tour, at the height of Covid’s first peak.

The even was curtailed early due to positive tests for himself and a number of other players.

OCTOBER 2021

Local government in the Australian state of Victoria (where Melbourne is) announce that all professional athletes must be double-jabbed to gain entry to the country.

LAST TUESDAY

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

Tennis Australia, in conjunction with the local government, insist that this is true. The tennis world reacts with fury — and Jamie Murray suggests this was another case of tennis favouring its star players.

On Wednesday, Djokovic landed in Melbourne but was held by Border Force for nine hours

WEDNESDAY

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

THURSDAY

Fans gather outside the hotel where Djokovic is being held to protest. Djokovic’s parents — back home in Serbia — label the facility a ‘prison’. Djokovic’s father compares his son to Jesus and claims he is being ‘crucified for his values’.

FRIDAY

Djokovic breaks his silence and thanks his fans for their support. Meanwhile, Czech doubles player Renata Voracova is held at the same hotel after her exemption is also rejected.

SATURDAY

Court documents reveal Djokovic registered a positive Covid test on December 16 — which forms the basis of his exemption. Pictures show he attended a public event with children the day after the positive test.

MONDAY 

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




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