Mon, 03 Oct 2022

New questions arise for Novak Djokovic over immigration form

Field Level Media
12 Jan 2022, 06:55 GMT+10

New questions regarding Novak Djokovic's compliance with Australia's strict rules regarding COVID-19 continued to swirl Tuesday, this time centering on an immigration form that the world No. 1 ostensibly filled out upon his arrival.

Just one day after a judge restored the 34-year-old Serbian's visa, the Federal Circuit Court released documents showing that Djokovic confirmed to authorities that he had not traveled in the 14 days before his flight to Australia. He also answered "no" to the question about previous travel on his Australian Travel Declaration form.

But the 20-time Grand Slam champion, looking to defending his Australian Open title when the major kicks off on Monday, was filmed playing tennis in the streets of Belgrade, Serbia's capital, on Dec. 25. He was later seen training in Spain -- both events occurring within the 14-day window. Djokovic traveled to Australia from Marbella, Spain, and arrived Jan. 5.

Djokovic reportedly told border officers that Tennis Australia completed the declaration on his behalf. If so, it would have been based on information he provided to the organization, per a government official. The form indicated that giving false or misleading information is a serious offense -- and could be grounds for deportation.

Government lawyer Christopher Tran said Monday that the minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, Alex Hawke, is still considering whether to "exercise a personal power of cancellation.'' If Djokovic's visa is canceled again, he could be banned from Australia for three years.

However, the ban is not automatic and a report by The Independent notes that the government already has maintained it could permit Djokovic to play in the 2023 Australian Open should his visa be canceled again.

Djokovic took part in a closed-door training session at the Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday, where tournament organizers cut the live stream from the court. Tennis Australia later released video of the session.

"Despite all that has happened, I want to stay and try to compete @AustralianOpen I remain focused on that. I flew here to play at one of the most important events we have in front of the amazing fans," Djokovic said in a tweet Monday.

Djokovic, who confirmed in his airport interview that he is unvaccinated, was denied entry into the country by border police over questions about the legitimacy of a COVID-19 vaccination exemption. The exemption was granted by Tennis Australia but doubts about the validity of Djokovic's claims have risen all the way to the country's prime minister, Scott Morrison, and continue to draw national and international interest.

Additionally, Djokovic's movements earlier in December are drawing scrutiny after saying he learned that he tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 16. Djokovic's own social media postings and related accounts show him at several public events without a mask that same day, including an event where he was honored with a stamp by the Serbian postal service and toured its facility.

Later that day, Djokovic participated in an hour-long panel discussion at The Novak Tennis Center as part of the "Path of a Champion" program hosted by the Novak Djokovic Foundation. The topic? "The role and establishment of authority in the development of character and discipline."

--Field Level Media

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