Spanish authorities are investigating whether tennis champion Novak Djokovic entered the country illegally.
Djokovic travelled from Serbia to Spain last month to train at the Soho Tennis Academy in Marbella, which uses the same court surface as the Australian Open, even though at that time it was unknown whether he would be allowed into Australia.
The Soho Academy tweeted some videos of the 34-year-old at their facility.
— SotoTennis Academy (@SotoTennis) December 31, 2021
Nice to see the human side and values of @DjokerNole after practice yesterday.
His son and friend had walked clay onto the hard courts and he wouldn’t let them leave until the court was fully cleaned.
— SotoTennis Academy (@SotoTennis) January 1, 2022
On Djokovic’s border declaration form for Australia, he indicated he had not travelled in the previous 14 days.
However, photographs have emerged of him in Serbia and Spain during that two-week period.
Djokovic has since claimed his agent ticked the wrong box, describing it as “human error”.
According to Spanish publication COPE, local authorities are now also investigating his entry into their country.
Tennis reporter Gaspar Ribeiro Lanca tweeted: “COPE reports that the Spanish government is now investigating whether unvaccinated Novak Djokovic entered the country illegally in late December.”
He noted that since September 20, citizens from Serbia needed a vaccine certificate or a special exemption to enter Spanish territory.
“So far the authorities say they did not receive any request from Djokovic,” he said.
There are reports Djokovic bought a house in Marbella in 2020, which might make him a resident.
Breaking news: COPE reports that the Spanish Government is now investigating whether unvaccinated Novak Djokovic entered the country ilegally in late December.
— Gaspar Ribeiro Lança (@gasparlanca) January 12, 2022
Djokovic is already being investigated in Serbia after admitting he participated in an interview while knowing he was Covid positive.
In a statement posted on social media, Djokovic conceded he had an interview with French magazine L’Equipe on December 18 after finding out he was infected with the virus.
“The next day, I attended a tennis event in Belgrade to present awards to children and took a rapid antigen test before going to the event, and it was negative,” he said.
“I was asymptomatic and felt good, and I had not received the notification of a positive PCR test result until after that event.
“The next day, on 18 December I was at my tennis centre in Belgrade to fulfil a longstanding commitment for a L’Equipe interview and photo shoot. I cancelled all other events except for the L’Equipe interview.
“I felt obliged to go ahead and conduct the L’Equipe interview as I didn’t want to let the journalist down, but did ensure I socially distanced and wore a mask except when my photograph was being taken.”
Djokovic described it as an “error of judgement”.
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on Tuesday that Djokovic would have “clearly violated the rules” if he knew the test result before he participated.
“No one is allowed to breach the isolation rules,” she said.
Meanwhile, the world is still waiting for a decision from Australia’s Immigration Minister Alex Hawke.
Mr Hawke has the power to deport the world no. 1 tennis player, despite a court ruling he could stay.
If the minister overturns the decision, Djokovic will be sent back to Serbia, denying him the chance to compete in the Australian Open.
He could also face a three-year ban from entering Australia.
A spokesman for Mr Hawke said he received “lengthy submissions and documentations” from the tennis player’s legal team on Wednesday, which delayed the visa decision.
Djokovic had been granted a visa to enter Australia — despite not being vaccinated — on the basis that he had had a recent Covid-19 infection.
But, when he arrived at Melbourne Airport, he was told he did not have a valid exemption, and had his visa cancelled.
A judge eventually quashed the visa cancellation and freed Djokovic from detention.