Image:The Straits Times
Novak Djokovic conceded “errors” in his travel documents and behavior following a claimed coronavirus infection on Wednesday as he struggled to remain in Australia and compete for a record 21st Grand Slam.
The world number one stated that his team had sent new material to the Australian government, which is considering canceling his visa and expelling him from the country once more.
“We are living in difficult circumstances in the midst of a global pandemic, and these errors do happen,” the unvaccinated 34-year-old said in a statement released while he practiced on the Australian Open’s courts on Monday.
The Serbian celebrity arrived in Melbourne a week ago, claiming an exemption from vaccinations following a positive PCR test result on December 16.
Border agents denied his exemption, claiming that a recent ailment did not qualify, tore up his visa, and detained him.
However, Djokovic’s high-powered legal team successfully overturned the visa decision in court on Monday, citing a procedural error during his airport interview.
Now, as new suspicions emerge, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke says he is considering canceling the visa once more.
Djokovic, a nine-time champion of the Australian Open, called stories regarding his post-infection appearances in Serbia “misinformation.”
The day following his positive test in Serbia, Djokovic appeared without a mask at a junior tennis tournament and at a ceremony honoring him with stamps displaying his image.
Djokovic, who made no reference to the stamp ceremony, stated that he learned about the PRC test result following his attendance at the children’s tennis event.
However, he confirmed that on December 18, he had an interview and photo session with French sports weekly L’Equipe.
“I felt obligated to conduct the L’Equipe interview because I didn’t want to disappoint the writer, but I made sure I maintained a social distance and wore a mask except when my photograph was taken,” he explained.”
On retrospect, I recognize that this was a mistake and that I should have rescheduled this commitment.”
The tennis star also acknowledged to making an error on his Australian travel declaration, in which he ticked a box stating that he would not travel within 14 days of arriving in Melbourne.
Indeed, social media accounts and news reports indicate that he flew between Serbia and Spain during that time period.
“This was presented on my behalf by my support team, as I informed immigration officials upon my arrival,” Djokovic explained.
“My agent would like to express her heartfelt apologies for the administrative error in selecting the erroneous box regarding my previous travel prior to arriving in Australia. This was a human error, not an intentional act.”
Djokovic’s public speech appeared to be geared at persuading the Australian government to allow him to remain in the country.
Leading immigration lawyer Christopher Levingston stated that the government might revoke Djokovic’s visa on minor criminal grounds, like as an inaccurately filled trip declaration.
However, the immigration minister has the authority to revoke the visa based on broader character concerns.
If Djokovic intentionally violated Serbia’s quarantine requirement for positive cases, he may be deemed a risk for violating public health regulations while in Australia, Levingston said.
Both Djokovic and the government would have numerous appeals available to them, but at the end of the day, the immigration minister can exercise his personal authority to reject the visa.
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