Friday, August 19, 2022

Novak Djokovic Is Being Investigated Over Claim He Lied On Australian Travel Declaration

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Novak Djokovic is being investigated over whether he falsely stated he had not travelled and would not do so in the two weeks prior to his flight to Australia.

In the latest twist in the Djokovic deportation furore, questions have been raised about the Australian Travel Declaration (ATD) he told border officials had been completed by his agent after social media posts indicated he had travelled from Serbia to Spain between Christmas and new year before flying to Melbourne on January 4 via Dubai.

Whoever filled out the form ticked ‘No’ to the question: “Have you travelled, or will you travel, in the 14 days prior to your flight to Australia? Giving false or misleading information is a serious offence. You may also be liable to a civil penalty for giving false or misleading information.”

Read Also: Novak Djokovic Wins Appeal Against Deportation From Australia
In his sworn affidavit to the court hearing which overturned the decision to deport him from the country, Djokovic said he had “authorised” his agent to submit his ATD “on or about 1 January”.

Social media posts indicate Djokovic had been in Belgrade on Christmas Day – 11 days before he arrived in Australia – but in Spain on New Year’s Eve. Djokovic owns a luxury property in Marbella, where he spends much of his downtime during the year.

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Djokovic, 34, told immigration officers that his agent had completed the ATD for him, before submitting it to Tennis Australia in order to gain a medical exemption.

However, the immigration officer who on Jan 6 filed the notice of intention to cancel Djokovic’s visa, said the cancellation was made “based on information the visa holder provided.”

Read Also: Novak Djokovic ‘Arrested’ In Australia Just Hours After Winning Visa Appeal
Sudhir R, who submitted the notice, said that fact led to them placing “significant weight” in favour of cancelling Djokovic’s visa.

The officer wrote: “The visa holder stated that Tennis Australia facilitated his medical exemption from Covid-19 vaccination requirement and completed the Australia Travel Declaration on his behalf.

“I consider that Tennis Australia would have facilitated his medical exemption and Australian Travel Declaration based on information the visa holder provided to them.

“As such, I don’t consider these constitute extenuating circumstances beyond the visa holder’s control. Based on the above, I apply significant weight in favour of visa cancellation for this factor.”

Djokovic and his family have already refused to explain why the world No1 repeatedly appeared in public while positive for coronavirus.

A press conference held by Djokovic’s brother, mother, father and uncle in Belgrade was abruptly ended on Monday when they were asked about his attendance at events in the days following the Dec 16 positive.

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Australia’s immigration minister, Alex Hawke, was still deciding on Tuesday whether to throw the Serb out of the country, with a verdict not expected before Wednesday local time at the earliest.

A spokesman said: “In line with due process, minister Hawke will thoroughly consider the matter. As the issue is ongoing, for legal reasons it is inappropriate to comment further.”

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Marton Fucsovics, who lost to Djokovic in last year’s Wimbledon quarter-finals, said he did not think the Serbian had the right to play at the Australian Open.

Speaking to the Hungarian outlet M4Sport, Fucsovics said: “People’s health is paramount, and there are rules that were outlined months ago, namely that everyone should vaccinate themselves – and Djokovic didn’t.

“From this point of view, I don’t think he would have the right to be here.”

The Hungarian world No 38 also said he was not alone in thinking it unfair Djokovic could defend his title despite being unvaccinated.

The 29-year-old told M4Sport that news of the world number one’s exemption had received a negative reception among many tennis players.

The world No 1 returned to practice on Monday after a federal judge overturned the cancellation of his visa for not having a Covid vaccination.

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Djokovic was immediately released from immigration detention, where he had been held since arriving in Australia.

He was spotted training again on Tuesday at the Rod Laver Arena, although organisers switched off the live camera feed and did not allow photographers into the court.

Australian broadcaster Channel Nine managed to obtain footage of Djokovic training via a drone camera above the court, as officials looked to keep coverage of the Serbian’s attendance to a minimum.

A backlash is expected from the Melbourne public should Djokovic play in a bid to defend his Australian Open title, such has been the anger over his entry into the country when unvaccinated which has been fuelled by the strict and harsh lockdown conditions that Victoria state has operated under over the last two years.

Photo Credit: Getty

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