Australia’s federal minister for health sent an email to Tennis Australia warning them that players infected with Covid would not receive a vaccination exemption. The message was so shocking it is thought Novak Djokovic has been locked up in a legal battle.

On Wednesday, the world’s top tennis player arrived in Melbourne to fight for a record 10-year Australian Open title. However, he was informed that his medical exemption wasn’t sufficient.

Djokovic is now facing deportation home and is currently under police guard at a CBD hotel while his lawyers fight to protect his right as a player.

A letter from Greg Hunt to Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley has been released. It shows the Health Minister warned Australian Open officials about the possibility of a recent infected player.

“The Australian Border Force advised people that they must have full vaccinations, as per ATAGI (the National Advisory Body on Vaccines), to be able to enter Australia without quarantine,” Mr Hunt stated.

‘In relation to your specific questions, I can confirm that people who contracted Covid-19 within the past six months and seek to enter Australia from overseas, and have not received two doses of a Therapeutic Goods Administration-approved or recognised vaccine are not considered fully vaccinated.’

Explosive emails from Health Minister Greg Hunt to the CEO of Tennis Australia prove the organisation had sufficient warning Novak Djokovic would not be granted entry to Australia

Emails from Greg Hunt, Health Minister to Tennis Australia CEO show that the organization was well aware Novak Djokovic wouldn’t be allowed entry to Australia.

A letter sent by Greg Hunt to Craig Tiley at the end of November shows the health minister warning Australian Open officials that a recent infection would not grant players an exemption

Greg Hunt wrote to Craig Tiley, at the beginning of November, informing him that the Australian Open had received a new infection and would not give players exemption.

Mr Hunt specifically reiterated to Mr Tiley that 'major sporting events' were at the mercy of 'relevant jurisdiction'

Mr. Hunt reiterated specifically to Mr. Tiley that major sporting events were subject to the jurisdiction of “relevant jurisdiction”.

For clarification on unvaccinated entry, Mr Tiley previously wrote to Mr Hunt and Mr Health Department. The Tennis Australia boss received two crucial responses. 

NCA Newswire has obtained these letters which prove that the federal government gave Australia’s tennis officials considerable time to notify Djokovic as well as other tennis players who wanted to play unvaccinated. 

According to the 34-year old world number one, he believed that a recent infection would give him the ability to skip the jab requirement. But Mr Hunt stated that only ATAGI’s definition would permit players to cross the border. 

He wrote, “At the moment, decisions to support travel requests to Australia are carefully evaluated by Australian Border Force.”

“The Commonwealth grants travel approvals, including flight arrangements and quarantine, to make sure that returning Australians don’t become displaced. It also ensures the safety of the Australian community from any health risks.

Mr Hunt said only ATAGI's definition of 'fully vaccinated' would see players pass through the border, which does not include an infection within the past six months

Hunt claimed that players would only be able to cross the border if they are fully vaccinated according to ATAGI. He said this excludes any infected player within the past six month.


  • I can confirm that people who contracted Covid-19 within the past six months and seek to enter Australia from overseas, and have not received two doses of a Therapeutic Goods Administration-approved or recognised vaccine are not considered fully vaccinated.’
  • “The Australian Border Force advised people to be completely vaccinated as per ATAGI (the National Advisory Body on Vaccines), in order to get quarantine-free entry into Australia.
  • I encourage all sporting groups, including Tennis Australia, and the Australian Border Force to keep working together with state and territorial health authorities, venues, and other stakeholders on Covid safety plans for events.

Mr. Tiley was specifically reminded by Mr. Hunt that major sporting events were subject to the jurisdiction of “relevant jurisdiction” and that Tennis Australia must ensure that they work with Australian Border Force officials in order to make sure that players are eligible for entry.

“We urge travellers to check the entry requirements of any state or territory that they want to travel to in Australia to compete at the Australian Open or summer series leadin events. This will ensure they meet all requirements,” the minister said.

“I encourage all sporting groups, including Tennis Australia to keep working with the Australian Border Force, states and territories health authorities, and venues to develop Covid-safe plans to ensure that events are safe, even for international travel.

You will find links to the official ABF/ATAGI advice regarding entry information. Finally, Mr Hunt reminds you that players are encouraged to research their options.

“Finally, each person is responsible to ensure that they fulfill the requirements for travel within and to Australia,” he said.

It’s not clear if Tiley was in contact with Djokovic, his team or any other person prior to Djokovic trying to enter Serbia.

Another letter was also sent to Mr Tiley by Mr Hunt’s Department, almost two weeks before it arrived from the National Covid Taskforce First Assist Secretary Lisa Schofield. 

Djokovic now faces deportation back home, and is under police guard in a hotel in the CBD while his lawyers fight for his right to play

Djokovic is now facing deportation home and is currently under police guard at a CBD hotel while his lawyers fight to protect his right of play

Ms Schofield wrote the letter on behalf of two professors at ATAGI. She also confirms that a recent infected person does not qualify for full vaccination. 

“ATAGI noted that natural immunity to past infections is recognized in many countries. However, ATAGI also points out the difficulty of confirming past infections and the uncertainty of how long protection will last,” she wrote.

‘While evidence suggests past infection reduces the risk of reinfection for at least six months (and thus may be regarded as a temporary exemption for vaccination for a maximum of six months), ATAGI advises that two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine (or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine) according to a recommended schedule is required in order to be considered fully vaccinated.’

It is clear from the letters that Tennis Australia, Mr Tiley, and the Australian Open all knew Djokovic had invalidated his basis for exempting him.

It remains to be determined if the information was passed to the Serbian team. However, he is still locked up in Melbourne’s hotel while his legal team waits to hear a ruling from a Federal Court. 

Mr Tiley also received another letter from Mr Hunt's department confirming entry requirements for players would fall under ATAGI's definitions of being vaccinated

In the letter, Ms Schofield writes on behalf of two professors from ATAGI, also confirming that a recent infection does not constitute fully vaccinated status in Australia

Another letter was also sent to Mr Tiley by Mr Hunt from his department confirming that players must be vaccinated as per ATAGI.

Djokovic was criticized by Rafael Nadal for his harsh criticisms of the Serbian, claiming that his actions had serious consequences.

According to the Spaniard, he sympathized with Australians being held down during the pandemic. Djokovic said that he could easily have entered the country had he only received the jab.  

Nadal said that “It’s not unusual for the people here to get frustrated about the case” because there have been a lot hard lockdowns… It was impossible for many people to return home.”

Rafael Nadal said Djokovic 'should have known better' and could have easily entered to defend his title if he had simply gotten vaccinated

Rafael Nadal stated that Djokovic “should have known better” and could easily have entered to defend his title, if he’d only gotten vaccinated

“The one thing that is clear to me is that if you have your vaccine, you can participate in the Australian Open.

“I can only say that I trust the doctors who are experts in medicine. My point of view is that we must get vaccines if we believe the world.

‘I have completed the COVID. I was vaccinated two times. This will allow you to enjoy the games. This is the only thing that’s certain.

Djokovic was not interested in launching a personal attack against him. The world’s no.6 stated that Djokovic’should have known better’ than to fly to Australia with no valid exemption.  

He would have no problem playing in Australia, I believe. Nadal explained that while he was free to make his own decisions and every person is entitled to their decisions, some consequences do follow.

“Of course, I do not like this situation. He is a good person and I am sorry. However, I feel sorry for him. He knows the circumstances from months back, and he takes his own decision.

Without wanting to be drawn in on a personal attack on Djokovic, the world no.6 said the Serbian 'should have known better' than to travel to Australia without a valid exemption

The world number 6 said Djokovic’should’ have known better than to travel without an exemption to Australia.

This comes as reports surface that Tennis Australia has granted two medical exemptions to players who don’t comply with the rules. Both of these are currently under investigation by Border Force.

Attorneys representing world number one appealed at Judge Anthony Kelly for review of the Department of Home Affairs’ decision to deport him. 

Nick Wood SC, Djokovic’s lawyer, told court that he is determined to help his client play at the Australian Open starting January 17th. However the visa issue stands in his way.

Wood explained that Djokovic will not be able to compete in the tournament because of the absence of visa approval.

Judge Kelly indicated that he was willing to take the case late to achieve an outcome and asked whether the tennis star has a training court at the hotel where he’s being held.

Christopher Tran representing Djokovic said that he doesn’t think it’s ‘in the interest of justice’ for him to take a quick decision tonight. 

The judge noted that there are three possible routes to take when the case returns to the courtroom at 6 pm.

The hotel in Melbourne's CBD where Novak Djokovic is currently being held under police guard as his legal team await a decision from a federal court

Novak Djokovic’s legal team is awaiting a ruling from the federal court. Novak Djokovic currently resides in Melbourne’s CBD hotel.

Djokovic may not object to the injunction sought by the government. This means that he can stay in the country as his lawyers evaluate their options.

It is most probable that Djokovic will be deported by the government. But, the government may be prepared to delay until Friday’s court hearings.

If the government decided to expel Djokovic today or tomorrow morning, the final path would be to have a judge issue an injunction.

Judge Kelly stated that he was firmly inclined to help the parties resolve this interim application today before approving the case to be withdrawn until 6pm. 

Djokovic’s first statement caused widespread anger due to his refusal of confirmation about his vaccination status.

He isn’t legally required to disclose the reasons for his alleged medical exclusion, but it is believed that doing so could have been beneficial in his entry to Australia.

Border force officers are approving medical exemptions’regularly,’ one source stated, noting that it is reasonable to assume Djokovic meets the eligibility criteria for valid exemption.

However, they stated that if he refused to disclose the reason for exemption to any official at border, ‘therein lies a problem.

After landing in Melbourne at 11:30 on Wednesday afternoon, the controversial vaccine critic was taken away by immigration officers and interrogated.

On Thursday morning, Australian border officials confirmed the cancellation of his visa.

Initial reports indicated that the visa Morrison was not allowed to allow for medical exemptions. However, Mr Morrison confirmed later that there was no exception.