Novak Djokovic
Australian Open 2019: Novak Djokovic Wins Final Over Rafael Nadal Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The Serbian professional tennis player, Novak Djokovic spent four nights in an Australian immigration detention hotel due to visa cancellation ahead of the Australian Open, and his hearing appeal began in Melbourne on Monday in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.

The World No. 1 tennis player was confined to a temporary detention facility in Melbourne while mounting a legal challenge against canceling his visa ahead of the Australian Open.

"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 grounds that he had recently recovered from COVID," the document said.

Djokovic's visa was canceled after arriving at Melbourne airport Wednesday. Australian border officials stated that he didn't meet the entry rule requirements. According to the court papers filed by the tennis player's lawyer, Djokovic tested positive for COVID-19 last month and recovered, which they used as grounds in applying for a medical exemption to Australia's vaccination rules.

According to the court filing, Djokovic's first Covid-positive test was recorded on Dec. 16, 2021; after the absence of fever or "respiratory symptoms," he later applied for a medical exemption to compete in the Australian Open. Djokovic relies on the advice of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisations, which stated that vaccination could be deferred for up to six months due to a COVID-19 infection. Australian Open organizers have also been facing heat over the Djokovic's situation.

However, Australian Border Force determined that Djokovic's exemption was invalid under Australia's BioSecurity Act because his "previous infection with COVID-19 is not considered a medical contraindication for COVID-19 vaccination in Australia." Djokovic's lawyers firmly described the visa cancellation as illogical and unreasonable. Filing 35 pages of submissions, they outlined 11 grounds of appeal.

The federal government's bid for extra time to prepare its case against Djokovic was denied. The application was made on behalf of Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews during the weekend, seeking to adjourn the final hearing by two days, which is five days from the start of the Australian Open. Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly refused the application and the case resumed Monday as primarily planned. He ordered that the Australian Border Force must release the tennis star from a Melbourne immigration detention facility so that he can watch the virtual court hearing.

Djokovic's family began a rally supporting him on Saturday in Belgrade, Serbia. "We've managed to make sure gluten-free food is delivered to him, as well as exercising tools, a laptop and a SIM card so that he is able to be in contact with his family," said Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabicsaid.

Australian Open begins on Jan. 17. The court hearing on Monday will determine whether Djokovic can proceed to the competition or not.

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates match point against Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan following the Davis Cup Quarter Final between Serbia and Kazakhstan at Madrid Arena on December 01, 2021 in Madrid, Spain. Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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