From the Huff Post:
Novak Djokovic’s lawyers filed court papers Saturday in his challenge against deportation from Australia that show the tennis star tested positive for COVID-19 last month and recovered, grounds he used in applying for a medical exemption to the country’s strict vaccination rules.
The No. 1-ranked Djokovic was denied entry at the Melbourne airport late Wednesday after border officials canceled his visa for failing to meet its entry requirement that all non-citizens be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
Djokovic was given a medical exemption backed by the Victoria state government and Australian Open organizers on Jan. 1, based on information he supplied to two independent medical panels, and he was approved for a visa electronically.
But it has since emerged that the Victoria state medical exemption, allowed for people who tested positive for the coronavirus within the last six months, was deemed invalid by the federal border authorities.
Djokovic has been confined to an immigration detention hotel in Melbourne, where he’s been preparing for the legal challenge against his visa cancellation in the Federal Circuit Court on Monday.
The Australian Open starts Jan. 17. Djokovic is the defending champion and has won the Australian Open men’s singles title nine times. He has 20 Grand Slam singles title, a men’s record he shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
The Australian Broadcasting Corp. and the Australian Associated Press reported details of the documents late Saturday. It showed Djokovic received a letter from Tennis Australia’s chief medical officer on Dec. 30 last year “recording that he had been provided with a ‘medical exemption from COVID vaccination’ on the grounds that he had recently recovered from COVID.”
The exemption certification said the date of the 34-year-old Serb’s first positive test was Dec. 16, 2021, “and that he had not had a fever or respiratory symptoms in the past 72 hours.”
Djokovic attended a Dec. 17 event in Belgrade honoring young tennis players. The event was covered by local media, and parents posted photos on social media showing Djokovic and the children not wearing masks. It’s not clear if Djokovic knew the results of his test at the time.
On Dec. 14, Djokovic had attended a Euroleague basketball game between Red Star and Barcelona in a packed sports hall in Belgrade. He was photographed hugging several players of both teams, including some who soon later tested positive.
The court submission Saturday said Djokovic received confirmation from Australia’s Department of Home Affairs saying that his travel declaration had been assessed and that his responses indicated he met the requirements for quarantine-free arrival in Australia.
So, who is at fault? Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said “rules are rules” and that incoming passengers were responsible for meeting border regulations.
Tennis Australia and the government of Victoria state, where the Australian Open is played, are blaming confusion over the precise definitions regarding grounds for medical exemptions.
Tennis Australia, which runs the tournament and organizes the logistics for more than 2,000 incoming players, staff and officials, reportedly gave incorrect interpretations to players about the acceptable grounds for an exemption. That included the interpretation that having had a coronavirus infection within the previous six months would qualify.
The federal government disagreed.
The Victoria state government mandated that all players, staff, fans and officials must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 to enter the tournament.
The state, which approved the medical exemptions for Djokovic, said those exemptions for were for access to Melbourne Park, not the border.
Australian Open organizers have not commented publicly since Wednesday, except to tell Australian newspapers that no players have been misled over the vaccination requirements.
Tournament director Craig Tiley has continued working in the background with Djokovic.
Tiley’s video message to Australian Open staff about the tournament’s “difficult time in the public arena” was published in News Corp. newspapers Saturday.
“There’s been a circumstance that relates to a couple of players, Novak particularly . . . in a situation that is very difficult,” Tiley said in the video. “We’re a player-first event. We’re working closely with Novak and his team, and others and their team, that are in this situation.”
The 34-year-old Djokovic was one of two players put into detention in a hotel in Melbourne that also houses refugees and asylum seekers. A third person, reported to be an official, left the country voluntarily after border force investigations.
Tennis player Renata Voracova, another tennis player planning to participate in the Australian Open, had her visa canceled by the Australian government on January 8, 2022.:
“According to a report by Tennis.com, Renata Voracova of the Czech Republic has had her visa cancelled by the Australian Border Force over her vaccination status, despite, like Djokovic, having previously been cleared to enter the country. Voracova had even already competed in a match while in the country. Voracova, the No. 81-ranked player in doubles, lost her opening match on Wednesday alongside Katarzyna Piter.”
Voracova was detained by the Australian Border Force for several hours and was taken to The Park Hotel (the same facility Djovok is being held):
“Czech tennis player Renata Voracova was placed in the same immigration detention hotel as Novak Djokovic after having her visa canceled by Australian Border Force officials, Czech authorities confirmed Friday, via ESPN.
Voracova was reportedly detained after being told by Australian Border Force officials that she had to leave the country. It’s unclear why Voracova was apprehended by Australian officials.
The Czech Foreign Ministry said Voracova and Djokovic are “in the same detention” in Melbourne “together with several other players.” The statement did not include the other names.
“We submitted through our embassy in Canberra a protest note and are asking for an explanation of the situation. However, Renata Voracova decided to drop out of the tournament due to limited possibilities for training and to leave Australia.”
According to ESPN, the ABF also confirmed Friday that investigations were conducted into the visa status of two other people connected to the Australian Open. One person voluntarily left the country and the other was taken into immigration detention pending deportation. “
The Park Hotel: A Quarantine Facility Known for Human Rights Abuses
The facility has been accused of serving detainees maggot-infested food, denying medical treatment, and COVID-19 outbreaks.
“The Park Hotel gained notoriety in December when a fire in the building forced refugees and asylum seekers to be evacuated. One person was hospitalised for smoke inhalation. There were no fatalities.
A week later, on December 27, asylum seekers posted images to social media showing food they had been served allegedly filled with maggots alongside mouldy pieces of bread.
Salah told SBS News: “I was just shocked. The food they’ve been delivering is putting people in danger.
“Even an animal cannot eat this type of food.”
Another asylum seeker said he threw up after eating the food provided by the hotel.
“‘Victoria’s health minister Martin Foley said he was “quite concerned” about the situation in the hotel, while the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne described the latest outbreak as an “avoidable disaster’.”
One detainee at The Park Motel as been incarcerated for 9 years since he came by boat to Australia at the age of 15:
Perth Now describes the abhorrent, subhuman conditions inside The Park Motel:
“Refugees have complained of receiving mouldy food with live maggots squirming around inside.
Without doubt, it is a hotel of infamy.
Refugees have shared their horror stories of being trapped inside the hotel for several years with rotting food, no fresh air and unable to exercise.
‘The maggots were alive in the plastic dish. People refused to eat it and demanded that it be taken away,’ one refugee told SBS last week.
‘There was no other food bought to replace it. So they either ate the maggot-infested food, the mouldy bread or went hungry. Most went hungry.
‘Even an animal cannot eat this type of food’.”
“For more than a year, the facility has housed detainees from Manus Island and Nauru for urgent medical care under now-defunct Medevac laws.
There was a COVID outbreak at the hotel in October, with at least 22 of the then 46 refugees and asylum seekers testing positive.
Two weeks ago, two fires broke out on the third and fourth floors.”
“Before it was turned into a makeshift detention centre, the Park Hotel was used as a quarantine hotel.
Ninety per ent of cases from Victoria’s second wave in 2020 — which led to 18,000 infections, 800 deaths and a lockdown that lasted 112 days — were linked to an outbreak at the hotel, the State’s hotel quarantine inquiry was told.
It was then known as the Rydges on Swanston but has since been rebranded.”
Tennis World shared additional allegations of abuses at the quarantine facility:
Novak’s Father Speaks
Novak Djokovic is a devout Serbian Orthodox Christain.
January 6th, the date of Novak’s detainment, is the eve of the Nativity of Christ (“Orthodox Christmas Eve”).
Bishop Siluan of Australia and New Zealand’s Serbian Orthodox Church sent a statement to Australian officials in support of Novak’s release:
Novak’s father stated 25 other tennis players were allowed into Australia with the same paperwork as Novak (perhaps that is by the Australian Border Force is detaining other tennis players). He stated people need to stand up against totalitarianism, as the battle is not just for Novak’s freedom. But for billions of people who want the right to freedom of movement, thought, expression, and opinion:
Protesters gathered outside The Park Hotel where Novak is detained:
Bishop Photius of the Serbian Orthodox Church described a global battle for freedom and the need for a libertarian movement to prevent digital concentration camps, separation of families, and human rights abuses in late December 2021. Bishop Photius shares that “today it is necessary to struggle..for global freedom, and “right now, a great battle is being fought for freedom all around the world…That’s why it is necessary to regain spiritual consciousness to take up the libertarian struggle. But no longer locally, but globally, for complete freedom of all the people and nations. Great minds of the Roman Catholic Church and great minds and intellectuals from the libertarian Europe have risen up and fight against that. The people are on the streets-in Europe, Austria, Australia, in Canada, in all the places. They do not want to live in camps.
The “Church has always been libertarian, struggling for freedom of the people, not for the political freedom, but for the general, existential freedom of the people, of each person as such, being God’s image and God’s icon. Such is the time we live in, and we need to struggle against that.” He continues “That is why the free-thinking people of libertarian spirit call us to rise up, to be dignified- not anarchistic, we don’t want anarchy, but we want freedom. And we should fight for it. Each in one’s own way.
Bishop Photius is correct, as protests have continued every Saturday against vaccine passports and mandates in Europe, Australia, Canada, and globally.
Scenes from January 8th, 2022 protests:
Seoul, South Korea:
Renewed protests and demands for Julian Assange’s release:
Journalists cover the details of Assange’s unlawful detention, uniting behind the platform of free speech: