Novak Djokovic admits mistake on Australia COVID form

Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic said on Wednesday that an incorrect answer was made on his Australian entry documents.

This mistake breached the country’s strict laws on reporting recent travels. The Australian government is still considering whether to deport him.

Djokovic had been held in immigration detention in Melbourne for several days after his visa was canceled upon arrival by Australian border force officials. They questioned the legitimacy of a medical exemption Djokovic presented from having to be fully vaccinated to enter the country.

The tennis world number one is hoping to compete in the Australian Open and secure a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title.

What did Djokovic say about the error?

Djokovic’s form said that he had not traveled anywhere in the 14 days before arriving in Australia, even though the tennis player had been seen at events in Spain and his native Serbia within that time period.

In a statement posted on social media, Djokovic described reports about his activities as “misinformation which needs to be corrected,” and said he wished to “address matters which are very hurtful and concerning to my family.”

After attending a basketball game in Belgrade, where several people tested positive, Djokovic said he took a rapid and a PCR test on December 16. The next day, the tennis star sais, he took a rapid test and tested negative before presenting awards to children at a tennis event. He said it was only after the event that he received a positive COVID result from his PCR test.

“The next day, on 18 December, I was at my tennis center in Belgrade to fulfill a long-standing commitment for a L’Equipe interview … I felt obliged to go ahead and conduct the interview, but did ensure I socially distanced and wore a mask except when my photograph was being taken,” he said

“While I went home after the interview to isolate for the required period, on reflection, this was an error of judgment and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment.”

Djokovic said his travel declaration was filled in by his support team, and that his “agent sincerely apologizes for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box.”

“This was human error and certainly not deliberate,” Djokovic wrote.

Djokovic added that his team had given the Australian government additional information to clarify the matter.

Giving false or misleading information on the form is an offense, with a maximum penalty of 12 months in prison and a fine of up to 6,600 Australian dollars (€4,187, $4,763). This can also lead to the cancellation of the offender’s visa.

Will Djokovic be able to play in the Australian Open?

Djokovic was released from detention on Monday after a judge overturned the cancelation of his visa as “unreasonable,” as he was not given time to consult with lawyers and tennis officials.

However, Australia’s Immigration Minister Alex Hawke can still revoke Djokovic’s visa.

If deported, he will not be able to play in the Australian Open tennis tournament, which is set to start on January 17.

Tennis commentator Steve Pearce told DW that if the government does use executive power to cancel Djokovic’s visa, it would result in him being banned from the country for three years.

“Does [the Australian government] stand by everything it’s been saying over this last week, that Djokovic shouldn’t be in the country?” he said. “Or do they let the court decision stand, and everything moves on? Really intriguing.”


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