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Deportation row: Novak Djokovic clarifies movements, Australian visa saga continues

By Associated Press

MELBOURNE: Novak Djokovic has moved to clarify how mistakes were made on the immigration document he submitted on his arrival in Melbourne last week, before his visa was revoked and then reinstated in a COVID-19 vaccination saga that has overshadowed the days leading up to the Australian Open.

A statement was posted on Djokovic’s social media accounts on Wednesday while the men’s tennis No. 1 was in Rod Laver Arena holding a practice session against Tristan Schoolkate, a 20-year-old Australian. The nine-time and defending Australian Open champion is in limbo before the year’s first tennis major starts next Monday.

Djokovic won a legal battle on Monday allowing him to stay in the country, but he still faces the prospect of deportation because he’s not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Reports emerged that he’d been attending events in his native Serbia last month while infectious, and he’d made errors on an immigration form to enter Australia that could potentially result in the cancellation of his visa.

On the form, Djokovic said he had not traveled in the 14 days before his flight to Australia. The Monte Carlo-based athlete was seen in Spain and Serbia in that two-week period.

In a statement posted on Instagram, Djokovic described the speculation as “hurtful” and said he wanted to address “continuing misinformation” in the interest of “alleviating broader concern in the community about my presence in Australia”.

Djokovic said that he’d taken rapid tests that were negative in the days before he returned a positive on a test he undertook out of an “abundance of caution” because he was asymptomatic.

He addressed the travel declaration by saying it was submitted on his behalf by his support team and “my agent sincerely apologizes for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box”. “This was a human error and certainly not deliberate. The team has provided additional information to the Australian Government to clarify this matter,” he wrote.

At issue is whether he has a valid exemption to rules requiring vaccination to enter Australia since he recently recovered from COVID-19. Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s office said Djokovic’s legal team had filed further submissions against the the potential cancellation of his visa.

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