Djokovic confirms error made on Australian travel entry form
MELBOURNE: Novak Djokovic said on Wednesday an incorrect answer was made on his Australian entry documents, breaching the country’s strict laws on reporting recent travel, as the government said it was still considering whether to deport the player, Reuters reported.
Djokovic was held in immigration detention in Melbourne for several days after his visa was cancelled by border force officials, who questioned his medical exemption for a requirement to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
He was released on Monday after a judge quashed that decision, saying the cancellation of the visa was “unreasonable” because the player was not given time to consult with lawyers and tennis officials when he arrived in the country.
Djokovic said his travel declaration was filled in by his support team, who made an “administrative mistake” when they ticked the “no” box in response to whether he had travelled elsewhere in the 14 days before arriving in Australia.
“This was human error and certainly not deliberate,” Djokovic said. “We are living in challenging times in a global pandemic and sometimes this mistakes can occur.”
The statement came as Australia’s Immigration Minister Alex Hawke considered whether to cancel the world no.1 tennis player’s visa ahead of the Australian Open, which starts on Jan. 17.
Giving false or misleading information in the form is an offence, carrying a maximum penalty of 12 months in prison, and a fine of up to A$6,600 ($4,730) and can lead to cancellation of the offender’s visa.
Djokovic, who is seeking to win a record 21st tennis major at the Open, said his lawyers had provided additional information to the Australian government on Wednesday to clarify the matter.
A spokesman for Hawke, who has the discretionary power to again cancel Djokovic’s visa, said the minister was still considering taking action, a process that would be extended to assess the new information.