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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Novak Djokovic: Questions raised over tennis star’s travel declaration


Australian border officials are investigating whether Novak Djokovic’s travel entry form included a false declaration, Australian media report.

Djokovic’s visa was revoked upon his arrival in Melbourne last week, but it was reinstated by a judge on Monday.

However, Australia’s immigration minister retains the authority to rescind the visa and deport the unvaccinated player.

Djokovic, who will be defending his Australian Open title next week, has not responded to the latest reports.

The entry form for the 34-year-old Serb player stated that he had not travelled in the 14 days preceding his arrival on January 6.

During that fortnight, he appears to have been in both Serbia and Spain, according to social media posts.

Djokovic told border officials that Tennis Australia completed the Australian Travel Declaration on his behalf, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. It is not clear whether this would help him in the event it is challenged.

The Australian Border Force (ABF) did not immediately confirm the reports. Djokovic’s lawyers told the BBC they had no comment at this stage.

After being released from detention on Monday, Djokovic posted a photo of himself and his team – including coach Goran Ivanisevic – on court at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.

The tournament starts on January 17th, and if Djokovic wins, he will become the most successful men’s player in history.

Ana Brnabic, Prime Minister of Serbia, and Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia, spoke on the phone on Monday. Neither confirmed or denied whether Djokovic’s current visa status was discussed.

After ruling that ABF officials had not given him enough time to respond at Melbourne Airport, the Federal Circuit Court reinstated Djokovic’s visa. According to the judge, this was an unfair process.

The court did not rule on whether his medical exemption from vaccination – that he had Covid last month – was valid.

However, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said on Tuesday that he was still considering cancelling Djokovic’s visa under separate powers in Australia’s Migration Act.

The act empowers him to deport anyone who he believes poses a threat to “the health, safety, or good order of the Australian community.” According to local media, a decision was not expected on the same day.

The men’s professional tennis tour has called for more clarity of the rules to enter Australia and urged players to get vaccinated.

“The series of events leading to Monday’s court hearing have been damaging on all fronts, including for Novak’s well-being and preparation for the Australian Open,” the ATP said.

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