Novak Djokovic wins appeal against cancellation of Australian visa
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Novak Djokovic, 34, has had quite the week after he faced deportation by Australian authorities when his visa was cancelled ahead of the Australian Open tournament, where he hoped to defend his title. Since then, rumours of him breaching isolation rules before his arrival in Oz have surfaced, and the World No.1 felt he needed to address them for fear of the backlash “hurting” his family.
This is misinformation which needs to be corrected
In a statement posted to Instagram in the early hours of Wednesday morning, the Serbian tennis star, who is unvaccinated, said the “misinformation needs to be corrected”, after it came out he and his team had made a “false declaration” on his travel form prior to entering Australia.
The statement read: “I want to address the contouring misinformation about my activities and attendance at events in December and the lead up to my positive PCR Covid test result.
“This is misinformation which needs to be corrected, particularly in the interest of alleviating broader concerns in the community about my presence in Australia and to address matters which are very hurtful and concerning to my family.
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“I want to emphasise that I have tried very hard to ensure the safety of everyone and my compliance with testing obligations.”
He revealed that he attended a basket-ball game in Belgrade, Serbia, on 14 December, after which it was reported that a number of people had tested positive for the virus.
While he had no symptoms himself, he took a rapid antigen test on 16 December that came back negative but also took a PCR test the same day in an “abundance of caution”.
“The next day I attended a tennis event in Belgrade to present awards to children and took another rapid antigen test before going to the event, and it was negative,” he continued.
“I was asymptotic and felt good, and I had not received the notification of a positive PCR test result 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’Équipe interview.”
Djokovic admitted the decision to follow through with the interview was an “error of judgement”, but that he “felt obliged” to go ahead with it as he didn’t want to let the journalist down.
“I did ensure I was socially distanced and wore a mask except when my photograph was taken,” he explained.
“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.”
He concluded the lengthy explanation stating he “won’t be making any further comment” out of the “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,” he said.
“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.”
Before a judge overturned the decision to have him detained, he was forced by the Australian Border Force to spend several days in an immigration facility, which his family compared to “torture”.
However, Djokovic won his appeal to remain in Australia and a judge freed him from hotel detention, to the relief of his fans.
Despite returning to practice on the tennis court, with photos showing him at the venue for the Australian Open – Melbourne Park, the government may still decide to deport him.
The outcome has received polarised opinions, with some criticising the Australian government and some criticising the tennis star’s actions.
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