Novak Djokovic: Leaked document damning proof TA behind visa eligibility fiasco

Tennis Australia sent out an information sheet informing players of a process to follow so they could play in the Australian Open without being vaccinated. READ THE DOCUMENT IN FULL.

This is the smoking gun that proves Tennis Australia wrongly — and knowingly — told the world’s best tennis players, including Novak Djokovic, how they could play in the first grand slam of the year even though they knew the proper rules for players who were unvaccinated against Covid-19 was not as clear cut.

An information sheet, obtained by News Corp, was emailed by Tennis Australia to the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) early last month, then passed on to the world’s top players.

The document shows that Tennis Australia informed players there was a two-step process to follow so they could play in the Australian Open without being vaccinated.

The advice included a clause where players needed to prove they had contracted the virus in the last six months — which is presumed to be the basis for Djokovic’s exemption, which was withdrawn when he arrived in Australia.

But the problem is that the information forwarded to the ATP and players was incorrect, and Tennis Australia had already been told that.

Novak Djokovic and fellow players were told there was a two-step process to follow so they could play in the Australian Open without being vaccinated. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Novak Djokovic and fellow players were told there was a two-step process to follow so they could play in the Australian Open without being vaccinated. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Dated 7 December 2021, the email was sent after the federal government had already notified Tennis Australia in writing in November that a prior infection did not meet the requirements for quarantine-free travel.

The timing is critical because it points the blame for the whole fiasco at Tennis Australia, and backs up claims by acting Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan that the state government was also not told by Tennis Australia that the Commonwealth had warned them prior Covid-19 infection was not a genuine medical exemption.

In the document that was sent to the players, a cover letter outlines the two-stage process required for an unvaccinated competitor to be allowed to enter the championship.

The letter states that a player first needed an overseas medical exemption certificate to enter Australia, then a second exemption to play in the tournament.

The second exemption had to be signed off by an independent Australian medical practitioner or panel of expert medical personnel.

Novak Djokovic is currently fighting to be allowed entry to Australia. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Novak Djokovic is currently fighting to be allowed entry to Australia. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

The letter included a link for players to have their application reviewed by the independent panel, with a deadline of December 10.

Critically, the document also contained what it said was an outline of valid reasons for a temporary medical exemption, including the following, which has since been found to be different to the requirements for quarantine-free arrival into Australia.

Recent PCR-confirmed Covid-19 infection (after 31 July 2021), where vaccination can be deferred until six months after the infection.”

“If you fall into this category, please provide laboratory PCR result from the first positive test, antibody levels if available and evidence of any previous or subsequent vaccinations if relevant,” the letter said.

“The current ATAGI guidance for those who have had a recent Covid-19 infection is to be vaccinated once you have recovered from the acute illness.

“It may also assist the independent panel if you can provide a letter from your doctor or public health authority as to why you have not received a full dose of an approved vaccination following Covid-19 infection.”

The document also included a note claiming the information contained in it was all correct.

“As you are aware we have been urgently seeking clarification from Australian Federal and State public health authorities around the assessment of medical exemptions as they relate to the AO (Australian Open),” the document said.

“Specifically, we have sought urgent clarification in relation to: what will be accepted as proof of a valid medical exemption; and the position with respect to persons who have previously had Covid-19 in the past six months.

“We have now received further information and are in a position to expand on the advice we previously provided.”

Tellingly, TA didn’t mention anything to the players from the Australian government’s letter in November that it doesn’t consider a case of Covid within the past six months to be enough immunity to achieve an exemption that would avoid quarantine-free travel.

Tennis Australia issued a statement late on Friday night denying they had misled the players and their advice had always been for vaccination among the playing group.

“We have always been consistent in our communications to players that vaccination is the best course of action — not just as the right thing to do to protect themselves and others, but also as the best course of action to ensure they could arrive in Australia. We reject completely that the playing group was knowingly misled,” the statement said.

“Informing players they could get into the country on a medical exemption was taken from the Smart Traveller website that Greg Hunt directly referred us to.

“The purpose of this document was to explain eligibility to participate in the AO under Victorian laws which required that an exemption be in line with the ATAGI guidance.

“The summary of the ATAGI guidance in particular the information related to recent infection was new information taken from the expanded guidance issued by ATAGI.”