Djokovic admits ‘errors’ in urgent fight to avoid deportation

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Novak Djokovic on
Wednesday admitted “errors” in his travel papers and in his behaviour
after a claimed coronavirus infection as he battled to stay in Australia and
fight for a record 21st Grand Slam.

The world number one said his team had offered fresh
information to the Australian government, which is pondering whether to cancel
his visa, again, and throw him out of the country.

“We are living in challenging times in a global
pandemic and sometimes these mistakes can occur,” the unvaccinated
34-year-old said in a statement released as he practiced on the courts of the
Australian Open, which starts Monday.

The Serbian star flew into Melbourne a week ago claiming a
vaccine exemption because of a positive PCR test result on December 16.

Border agents rejected his exemption saying a recent
infection did not qualify, tore up his visa and placed him in a detention

But the vaccine-sceptic Djokovic’s high-powered legal team
dramatically overturned the visa decision in court on Monday on a procedural
matter related to his airport interview.

Now, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke says he is considering
cancelling the visa another time, as fresh doubts emerge.

Djokovic, a nine-time Australian Open champion, described
reports about his post-infection outings in Serbia as “misinformation”.

On the day after his positive test in Serbia, Djokovic
appeared at a youth tennis event and at a ceremony to honour him with stamps
bearing his image, both apparently without a mask.

Djokovic, who made no mention of the stamp ceremony, said he
only received the PRC test result after attending the children’s tennis event.

‘Error of judgement’

But he admitted that he also went ahead with an interview
and photoshoot with French sports newspaper L’Equipe on December 18.

“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,” he

“On reflection, this was an error of judgement and I
accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment.”

The tennis ace also admitted a mistake on his Australian
travel declaration, in which a box was ticked indicating that he would not
travel in the 14 days before taking his flight to Melbourne.

In fact, social media posts and reports show he flew from
Serbia to Spain during that period.

“This was submitted by my support team on my behalf –
as I told immigration officials on my arrival,” Djokovic said.

“My agent sincerely apologises for the administrative
mistake in ticking the incorrect box about my previous travel before coming to
Australia. This was a human error and certainly not deliberate.”

Djokovic’s public statement appeared to be aimed at swaying
the government to let him stay in Australia.

Leading immigration lawyer Christopher Levingston said the
government could cancel Djokovic’s visa on narrow criminal grounds, for
example, because the travel declaration was incorrectly completed.

But the immigration minister may also annul the visa on
broader character grounds.

If Djokovic knowingly dodged Serbia’s quarantine requirement
for positive cases, he could be judged to be a risk for potentially not
complying with public health orders while in Australia, Levingston said.

Various options to appeal would be open for both Djokovic
and the government, but at the end of the day, the immigration minister can
exercise his personal power to cancel the visa.

Author: desi123 is an online news portal that aims to provide the latest trendy news for Asians living in Asia and around the World.

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