Questions raised over Djokovic’s travel declaration amid visa review

(Update 1: Adds details of entry declaration, edits throughout, new lede, headline)

Melbourne, Australia, Jan 11 (EFE).- Questions were raised in Australia on Tuesday about whether Novak Djokovic lied on his border entry form about his travel in the two weeks before landing in Melbourne, while his stay in the country is still under official review.

A Melbourne court on Monday overturned the Australian border authorities’ decision to cancel the Serbian world No. 1 tennis player’s visa after he arrived in the country last week with a medical exemption to defend his Australian Open title without being vaccinated, citing recovery from a recent Covid-19 infection.

However, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke can use his personal power to cancel Djokovic’s visa and deport him, and is yet to make a decision.

In the Australian Travel Declaration (ATD) released among the tennis star’s documents during his court appeal, Djokovic apparently checked “no” when asked if he had traveled or would travel in the 14 days prior to his flight to Australia.

According to social media posts, Djokovic appears to have spent Christmas in Belgrade before flying out of Spain to Melbourne on Jan. 4 with a transit in Dubai.

Djokovic told border officials that Tennis Australia, organizers of the Australian Open, filled out the document on his behalf, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Federal government sources confirmed they were looking into a discrepancy on Djokovic’s ATD, the Herald also reported.

The form warns that “giving false or misleading information is a serious offence. You may also be liable to a civil penalty for giving false or misleading information.”

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Serbian counterpart Ana Brnabic held a phone conversation about the case.

In a statement, the Prime Minister’s Office said that Morrison told Brnabic about the pandemic-induced entry restrictions to the country, which require travelers to be fully vaccinated, although it grants a series of exemptions.

In talks he described as “constructive,” Morrison assured his counterpart that these restrictions were not discriminatory and have served to protect the nation during the coronavirus pandemic, public broadcaster ABC said.

Brnabic asked that Djokovic be treated fairly and that his rights be respected, Serbia’s public broadcaster reported.

The controversy sparked by the case has affected bilateral relations between the two countries with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic accusing the Australian authorities of “harassment.”

Djokovic, 34, arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday night with a medical exemption to play at the Australian Open without being vaccinated after claiming to have contracted Covid-19 last month.

However, border officials revoked his visa citing insufficient evidence, and sent him to an immigration detention hotel where he was held until Monday.

The tennis player’s lawyers appealed the authorities’ decision in a Melbourne court, which ruled in favor of the Serbian athlete, who is now able to prepare for the Australian Open that kicks off on Jan. 17. EFE


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