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Novak Djokovic could be deported from Australia as government prepares case to chuck him out

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The Australian Federal Government is tonight still preparing paperwork to try and boot Novak Djokovic out of the country, with sources warning letting him stay would set a ‘dangerous precedent’.

It is understood the government is willing to receive harsh backlash internationally over the issue in order to maintain its ‘tough on Covid’ border stance. 

The world no. 1 was originally set to be given the boot after being detained at an immigration hotel over the weekend but won a battle in the Federal Circuit Court to remain in the country and chase his 10th Australian Open title. 

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke is expected to hand down his decision on Thursday with bureaucrats from the Department of Home Affairs’ investigating inconsistencies in the tennis star’s story.

Djokovic, who is a vaccine sceptic, attempted to address a number of concerns about the situation in a lengthy statement posted to his Instagram page on Wednesday but several questions still remain.

Of most concern to Australian officials is Djokovic’s admitted breach of Serbia’s isolation rules after learning he had tested positive and the false information he provided on his travel entry form which he later blamed on his agent.

Lingering mystery also surrounds when the 20-time Grand Slam winner actually learned he had Covid with a German publication sowing doubt on his PCR test after QR Code information was uncovered that ‘did not match up’.

Pictured: Novak Djokovic during a practice session ahead of the Australian Open, in Melbourne, Australia January 11, 2022

Novak Djokovic with his wife Jelena. He has hit out at 'misinformation' over claims he tested positive to Covid and then attended an event with children

Novak Djokovic with his wife Jelena. He has hit out at ‘misinformation’ over claims he tested positive to Covid and then attended an event with children

Poll

Should tennis great Novak Djokovic be booted out of Australia?

  • YES 390 votes
  • NO 68 votes

The 34-year-old disclosed he had attended an event with children while he was Covid positive, but claimed he didn’t know he was infected until afterwards.  

Djokovic has been the subject of intense scrutiny for presenting awards to kids at an event in Belgrade on December 17 – a day after recording a positive result for the virus. 

The Serbian maintained he was not aware of his diagnosis until shortly after but did admit to conducting an in-person interview with French newspaper L’Équipe knowing he was positive.

He called his decision to go ahead with the Q and A an ‘error in judgement’ but said he maintained social distancing and wore a mask. 

Under Serbian law such a breach can carry a maximum sentence of three years behind bars. 

The tennis ace is also in hot water for various inconsistencies on his Australian declaration form.

Djokovic falsely said he had not travelled to any other countries in the 14 days prior to arriving in Melbourne, but it was later revealed he had been in Spain. 

Novak Djokovic (pictured at a training session on Wednesday) has addressed questions about his positive Covid test in mid-December

Novak Djokovic (pictured at a training session on Wednesday) has addressed questions about his positive Covid test in mid-December

In answer to the question: 'Have you travelled, or will you travel, in the 14 days prior to your flight to Australia?' whoever filled out Djokovic's travel declaration form selected 'no'. That means the 34-year-old tennis player would have needed to remain in the same country since December 21. But social media images appeared to show that he was in Belgrade, Serbia, on December 25 and then in Marbella, Spain, from December 31 until catching his flight to Australia, via Dubai, and landing in Melbourne on January 5

In answer to the question: ‘Have you travelled, or will you travel, in the 14 days prior to your flight to Australia?’ whoever filled out Djokovic’s travel declaration form selected ‘no’. That means the 34-year-old tennis player would have needed to remain in the same country since December 21. But social media images appeared to show that he was in Belgrade, Serbia, on December 25 and then in Marbella, Spain, from December 31 until catching his flight to Australia, via Dubai, and landing in Melbourne on January 5

‘This was submitted by my support team on my behalf – as I told immigration officials on my arrival,’ he said.

‘My agent sincerely apologises for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box about my previous travel before coming to Australia.’

Djokovic said the mistake was a ‘human error’ and in a pandemic ‘sometimes these mistakes can occur’.

‘Today, my team has provided additional information to the Australian government to clarify this matter,’ he said. 

That ‘additional information’ is currently being assessed by Immigration Minister Hawke who is weighing up whether to us his discretional powers to deport the tennis great.

Ministers and advisors within the Morrison government are growing apprehensive about the diplomatic fallout internationally.

But at the same time many feel failing to act would will bring embarrassment on the homefront and undermine Australia’s strong stance on borders as Covid cases continue to spiral.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke (pictured) is expected to hand down his decision on Thursday with bureaucrats from the Department of Home Affairs' investigating inconsistencies in the tennis star's story

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke (pictured) is expected to hand down his decision on Thursday with bureaucrats from the Department of Home Affairs’ investigating inconsistencies in the tennis star’s story

Djokovic is pictured on December 17 posing for pictures at an event in Belgrade

Djokovic pictured on December 17

December 17: The maskless tennis World No. 1 posed for pictures with the children in Serbia at a public PR event. He said on Wednesday he didn’t know he had Covid until after the event

Novak Djokovic (pictured) was taken to and immigration detention hotel in Australia after landing in Melbourne on January 5

Novak Djokovic (pictured) was taken to and immigration detention hotel in Australia after landing in Melbourne on January 5

Either way, policymakers do not want the scandal to drag on any further and have urged on Mr Hawke to make the call as soon as possible.

The Immigration Minister however has quietly rejected their demands and is in the process of examining all of Djokovic’s submissions.  

‘Mr Djokovic’s lawyers have recently provided lengthy further submissions and supporting documentation said to be relevant to the possible cancellation of his visa,’ a spokesman for Minister Hawke said.

‘Naturally, this will affect the timeframe for a decision.’ 

The government has doubts about when Djokovic actually became infected after the German publication Der Spiegel uncovered timestamps that allegedly do not match.

Unvaccinated travellers are banned from Australia unless they have a valid exemption.

Novak Djokovic poses on the red carpet with his wife Jelena before the 2019 Laureus World Sports Awards ceremony at the Sporting Monte-Carlo complex in Monaco

Novak Djokovic poses on the red carpet with his wife Jelena before the 2019 Laureus World Sports Awards ceremony at the Sporting Monte-Carlo complex in Monaco

Novak Djokovic claimed on his entry form that he had not travelled in the 14 days leading up to his arrival in Melbourne despite a trip to Spain

Novak Djokovic claimed on his entry form that he had not travelled in the 14 days leading up to his arrival in Melbourne despite a trip to Spain

Djokovic wrote in a sworn court affidavit he was ‘tested and diagnosed’ for Covid on December 16 – contradicting his claim he was told of his positive result on the 17th after attending the event with children in Serbia. 

The penalty for providing false information to to the Federal Circuit Court under the Crimes Act can carry a maximum jail sentence of five years.  

But the inconsistencies don’t stop there. 

Djokovic was told he could fly into Melbourne on the basis he tested positive to the virus in Serbia on December 16 and then negative six days later.  

But Der Spiegel claims when its reporter entered the code for his December 16 test into the official Serbian health database at 1.19pm on Monday, the result came back negative. 

An hour later at 2.33pm, the scan returned a positive result – in what could simply be a quirk of the system.

A negative result would have invalidated Djokovic’s claim to enter Australia on a temporary working visa for the tournament.

Casting doubt: A German news site claims when it entered the code for Djokovic's December 16 test into the official Serbian database at 1.19pm on Monday, the result came back negative

An hour later the the result came back positive on the official Serbian testing database, the probe found

A German news site claims when it entered the code for Djokovic’s December 16 test into the official Serbian database at 1.19pm on Monday, the result came back negative (left) and then positive about an hour later (right)

His positive test result has also been called into question by a discrepancy in the identification numbers used for every test.

The German investigation found Djokovic’s December 16 test result had the ID number 7371999, but his negative result on December 22 was 7320919 – 50,000 spaces lower. 

Researchers claimed the mismatched identification numbers showed Djokovic may actually have tested negative on December 16 and then positive six days later.

Such a result would have also made the Serbian ineligible to enter Australia on the grounds he had recently contracted and recovered from the virus on December 22, as claimed on official documentation.

Daily Mail Australia is not suggesting Djokovic or his team were involved in any wrongdoing, simply that there are questions surrounding the administrative error.

The Australian Open begins on January 17. 

DJOKOVIC COMES CLEAN ABOUT HIS COVID TESTS AND VISA DEBACLE 

I want to address the continuing misinformation about my activities and attendance at events in December in the lead-up to my positive Covid test result.

This is misinformation which needs to be corrected, particularly in the interest of alleviating broader concern in the community about my presence in Australia, and to address matters which are very hurtful and concerning to my family.

I want to emphasise that I have tried very hard to ensure the safety of everyone and my compliance with testing obligations.

I attended a basketball game in Belgrade on 14 December after which it was reported that a number of people tested positive to Covid-19. 

Despite having no Covid symptoms, I took a rapid antigen test on 16 December which was negative, and out of an abundance of caution, also took an official and approved PCR test on that same day.

The next day I attended a tennis event in Belgrade to present awards to children and took a rapid antigen test before going to the event, and it was negative.

I was asymptomatic and felt good, and I had not received the notification of a positive PCR test until after that event.

The next day, on 18 December I was at my tennis centre in Belgrade to fulfil a long-standing commitment for a L’Équipe interview and photoshoot. I cancelled all other events except for the L’Equipe interview.

I felt obliged to go ahead and conduct the L’Équipe 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 taken.

Djokovic is pictured during a training session at Melbourne Park on Wednesday.

Djokovic is pictured during a training session at Melbourne Park on Wednesday.  

When I went home after the interview to isolate for the required period, on reflection, this was an error of judgment and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment.

On the issue of my travel declaration, this was submitted by my support team on my behalf – as I told immigration officials on my arrival – and 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. We are living in challenging times in a global pandemic and sometimes these mistakes can occur. Today, my team has provided additional information to the Australian government to clarify this matter.

While I felt it was important to address and clarify misinformation I will not be making any further comment out of utmost respect for the Australian government and their authorities and the current process.

It was always an honour and a privilege to play in the Australian Open. The Australian Open is much-loved by players, fans and the community, not just in Victoria and in Australia but around the globe, and I just want to have the opportunity to compete against the best players in the world and perform before one of the best crowds in the world.



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