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Novak Djokovic: Australia travel declaration mistake a ‘human error’

Tennis star Novak Djokovic has released a long statement, with details on why he was not in isolation after testing positive for Covid-19 in December, and saying his agent made a mistake in filling out his Australian travel declaration.

The statement on Wednesday came as Australia’s Immigration Minister Alex Hawke was considering whether to cancel the world no.1 tennis player’s visa ahead of the Australian Open, which starts on January17, amid controversy over whether he was eligible for a medical exemption from the country’s Covid-19 vaccine requirements.

“I want to emphasise that I have tried very hard to ensure the safety of everyone and my compliance with testing obligations,” Djokovic said in a statement on his Instagram account.

Amid questions about his Australian Travel Declaration where he had to state whether he had travelled within 14 days of coming to Australia, he said his agent accidentally ticked the wrong box on the form.

“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 apologies for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box about my previous travel before coming to Australia,” Djokovic said.

READ MORE: Djokovic wins stunning victory in Australia visa case, his release ordered

On Tuesday, the tennis superstar trained at the Australian Open venue for his attempt to win a record 21st Grand Slam but his dream hung in the balance as the government pondered cancelling his visa again.

The world number one scored a surprise courtroom victory on Monday, overturning the Australian government’s decision to cancel his visa on Covid-19 vaccination grounds.

But the immigration minister said he may annul Djokovic’s visa once more.

The 34-year-old Serbian ace says he is determined to stay in Melbourne and compete in the Australian Open, which starts on January 17.

“I flew here to play at one of the most important events we have in front of the amazing fans,” Djokovic said on Instagram on Monday.

Wearing a t-shirt and shorts, he limbered up in a gym on Tuesday accompanied by coach Goran Ivanisevic before heading to centre court.

Television cameras filmed him from helicopters as he played.

Djokovic, a nine-time Australian Open champion, jetted into the country on January 5 carrying a medical exemption from vaccination due to a positive coronavirus test on December 16 last year.

After overnight questioning at Melbourne airport, border officials decided the exemption was not valid, cancelled his visa and transferred him to a detention centre pending deportation.

“I am not vaccinated,” Djokovic had told the border official, according to a transcript released by the court.

READ MORE: Court hears Djokovic’s bid to stay in Australia after visa furore

Djokovic denies allegations 

On Wednesday, Djokovic rejected “misinformation” over his public outings in Serbia despite a positive PCR test for Covid-19.

Djokovic described the allegations as “very hurtful” to his family and said on Instagram that he only learned of the December 16 test result the following day, after attending a youth tennis event.

Following the border saga on Australia’s immigration office said the world class tennis player’s lawyers have submitted further documents on his visa that will “affect time frame for decision.”

In response to tapes of being in Spain in the first week of January, Djokovic said his support team “apologises” for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box about his travel history before arriving in Australia.

READ MORE: Novak Djokovic prepares vaccine exemption case in Australia

All eyes on Australia minister 

Doubts emerged on Tuesday over the accuracy of Djokovic’s visa declaration, reportedly filled out before he flew in from Spain.

A copy of his declaration showed a tick in the box to confirm he had not and would not travel in the 14 days before landing in Australia on January 5.

There appears to be evidence he then travelled from Belgrade to Spain for the New Year period.

Djokovic was pictured in Belgrade on December 25, with Serbian handball player Petar Djordjic. The photograph appeared on Djordjic’s Instagram page.

Then, three days before arriving in Australia, Djokovic was pictured by local newspaper Diario Sur playing at the Puente Romano club in Marbella, where he was staying in a villa.

A spokesman for Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said he was “considering whether to cancel Mr. Djokovic’s visa” by using his ministerial powers. But he would not comment further for legal reasons.

READ MORE: Tennis star Djokovic’s detention in Australia enrages Serbs

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