Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Djokovic admits there was wrong information in travel announcement

by John Py and Rod McGuirk

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – Novak Djokovic admitted on Wednesday that his Australian travel manifesto contained false information, and that he “decided” to attend an interview and photo shoot in Serbia last month after testing positive for COVID error” is also accepted. -19.

In a statement posted to her social media accounts, the tennis star blamed “human error” by her support team for failing to announce she had traveled in the two-week period prior to entering Australia.

Misinformation about form could be grounds for deportation, the latest twist in the saga of whether an athlete should be allowed to remain in Australia despite not being vaccinated. Initial news that Djokovic was exempted from strict vaccination rules to enter the country caused an uproar, and ensuing controversy overshadowed the lead up to the Australian Open.

Djokovic acknowledged the loopholes when he sought to clarify what he called “persistent misinformation” about his movements after being infected last month – though he did not specify what inaccuracies he was referring to.

The statement was posted while men’s tennis No. 1 was holding a practice session at Rod Laver Arena, his third on the main court of the tournament since being released from four nights in immigration detention.

The nine-time and current Australian Open champion is in limbo ahead of the year’s first tennis major, which begins on Monday. The stakes are particularly high as he is seeking a men’s record 21st Grand Slam singles title.

His visa on arrival was revoked last week when his vaccination exemption was questioned, but he won a legal battle on procedural grounds that allowed him to remain in the country. He still faces the prospect of deportation – a decision that is entirely at the discretion of Australia’s immigration minister if it is deemed to be in the public interest for health and safety reasons.

The relegation could result in a three-year ban from entering Australia, a daunting prospect for a player who has won nearly half of his 20 Grand Slam singles titles here.

Court documents detailing Djokovic’s positive test sparked speculation over the star player’s appearance at events in his native Serbia last month. Further questions were also raised about errors in his immigration form, which could potentially result in his visa being revoked.

Regarding form, Djokovic said that he had not traveled in the 14 days prior to his flight to Australia, despite having been seen in Spain and Serbia in that period.

In his statement, Djokovic described the recent remarks as “hurtful” and said he wanted to address it in the interest of “reducing widespread concern in the community about my presence in Australia”.

The 34-year-old Serb, who said he took rapid tests that were negative and was asymptomatic before receiving his positive result from a PCR test, did it out of “an abundance of caution” after attending a basketball game in Belgrade. 14.

He said he received the result at the end of 17 December, and the next day scrapped all his commitments except a long-running interview with L’Equipe newspaper.

Djokovic said, “I felt obliged to move on…

The L’Equipe reporter who interviewed the athlete wrote in the newspaper that he and a photographer were also masked during the session – and kept their distance except for a brief moment as Djokovic said goodbye. The reporter said she tested negative for COVID-19 on Monday, and did not mention the photographer’s condition.

“When I went home to isolate for the required period of time after the interview, on reflection, it was an error of judgment,” Djokovic said.

At the time, Serbia required people who had been infected with COVID-19 to stay for at least 14 days. But Djokovic was seen on the streets of Belgrade a week after testing positive, although he said he had tested negative in between.

Meanwhile, Djokovic addressed the Australian travel announcement, saying it was submitted by his support team and that “my agent sincerely apologizes for the administrative mistake in ticking the wrong box.”

“This was a human error and certainly not intentional,” he wrote. “My team has provided additional information to the Australian Government to clarify this matter.”

The decision could take some time – but there is time pressure as the draw to determine the bracket for the Australian Open is set to take place on Thursday.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s office issued a statement saying that Djokovic’s legal team had filed further documents, adding: “Naturally, this will affect the deadline for the decision.”

The issue is whether he has a valid exemption to the strict rules requiring vaccination to enter Australia because he has recently recovered from COVID-19.

His exemption for the competition was approved by the Victoria State Government and tournament organizer Tennis Australia. This apparently allowed him to obtain a visa to travel.

But the Australian Border Force overruled the exemption and canceled his visa on arrival before a federal judge overturned that decision. Lawyers for the government have said the infection was grounds for exemption only in cases in which the coronavirus caused serious illness – although it is not clear why he was issued a visa if that is the case.

The initial decision to let him compete sparked complaints that Djokovic was being given special treatment – ​​and subsequent cancellation of his visa led to allegations that he was being targeted once the issue became political. The saga is playing out against a backdrop of growing concern over rising COVID-19 cases in Australia – and the government’s strategy to contain them.

Australia’s lawyer Greg Barnes, who is experienced in visa matters, told The Associated Press that the immigration minister has “personal power” to revoke visas without written notice or giving Djokovic a reasonable amount of time to respond.

If Djokovic’s visa is revoked, his lawyers could go back to court to apply for an injunction that would prevent him from being forced to leave the country.

If the government decides instead to give notice first, Barnes said it could give Djokovic up to nine days to respond.

“It could be a way to give Djokovic a chance in the tournament and then kick him out,” Barnes said.

Sydney-based immigration lawyer Simon Jeans said there are “a lot of thugs” in the law and the immigration department would be taking its time to make sure any visa cancellations were “appeal-proof”.


This story has been updated to correct excerpts from Djokovic’s statement. It said that the misinformation continues, not the ongoing misinformation; bound, not bound; My team, not the team. It has also been updated to correct Serbia’s rules on isolation after a positive COVID-19 test in December.


McGuirk reported from Canberra, Australia. Associated Press Writers Duसनan Stojanovic in Belgrade, Serbia, and Samuel Petrequin in Brussels contributed.

Nation World News Deskhttps://nationworldnews.com
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