At least three other Australian Open participants with the same medical exemption as Novak Djokovic are already in the country and more could arrive next week.
After Djokovic, a second player, Renata Voracova, was taken into custody as part of a sweep by authorities of those who entered the country under the same vaccination exemption as Djokovic, Czech authorities and ABC reported Friday. .
Czech Republic doubles specialist Voracova had played in Melbourne earlier this week but was asked to leave Australia after being arrested by Border Force officials. It was unclear whether she intended to challenge the decision, ABC reported, citing a source familiar with the matter.
“We can confirm that Czech tennis player Renata Voracova is in the same detention as Djokovic, together with several other players,” the Czech Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“We have submitted through our embassy in Canberra a note of protest and are asking for an explanation of the situation. However, Renata Voracova decided to drop out of the tournament due to limited training opportunities and leave Australia.
Djokovic was spending Orthodox Christmas in detention on Friday after having his visa canceled upon arrival in Australia when authorities ruled his documents were insufficient to allow him to enter the country without being vaccinated.
The political fallout, both at home and abroad, intensified overnight as Djokovic’s legal team prepared paperwork aimed at extending his stay after a Federal Court hearing in Melbourne on Monday.
However, the 20-time Grand Slam winner may not be the only person hoping to compete at the Australian Open to face expulsion from the country.
Home Secretary Karen Andrews has confirmed that the Australian Border Force is assessing the credentials of two other people who entered the country under the same exemption granted to Djokovic.
A source familiar with the matter said Reuters that a third Grand Slam entrant has also entered Australia under the same scheme, which had been put in place by Tennis Australia and the Victorian state government.
Exemptions may also have been granted to players or officials who have not yet arrived in Australia, the source added.
While the tournament proper begins on January 17, the ITF Junior events and wheelchair tournaments are set to begin next week, as are the Australian Open qualifying events.
TA has not commented on the case since Djokovic was initially detained at Melbourne Airport shortly after 11pm on Wednesday.
Tournament director Craig Tiley, who is also the general manager of TA, has defended the medical exemption given to Djokovic before his detention.
Srdjan Djokovic, the father of the detained player, claimed that more than 20 exemptions had been granted to tennis participants before the Australian Border Force intervened.
Tiley said this week that 26 exemption requests had been filed, but only a “handful” had been approved.
Djokovic’s legal team is expected to file further documents on Saturday supporting the nine-time Australian Open champion’s request for an injunction to delay his departure.
Justin Quill, a Thomson Geer partner who specializes in media law, says Djokovic may be able to play the Australian Open even while his challenge to the expulsion decision continues.
He said if Djokovic’s interim injunction is successful, the hearing on the actual case would likely be scheduled for a date well after the tournament ends on January 30.
“When you look at the interlocutory injunctions, you have to clarify two things,” Quill said. Reuters. “You have to show that there is an arguable case with reasonable grounds. If Djokovic overcomes that first hurdle, the next thing is Balance of Convenience.
“This is where you balance the scales in terms of imposing on each party and who will be more embarrassed if their rights are wrongfully denied.”
Quill said he thinks the balance of amenities could favor Djokovic.
“If it turns out that the interior minister is right and he finally wins the case, then they can expel Djokovic. It doesn’t impact the minister too much,” Quill said.
“If it turns out that Novak is right and they never had the right to expel him, he won’t be able to get his chance back at the Australian Open 2022. He can’t go back on his attempt to become the greatest Grand Slam winner in history.