Tennis star Djokovic on allegations: Admit something, deny a lot

Status: 12.01.2022 8:49 a.m.

Tennis star Djokovic is still in Australia, but a decision by the immigration minister is still pending. The Serb now expressed himself for the first time on the allegations against him – he did not deny all of them.

With a long statement via Instagram, Novak Djokovic himself expressed himself publicly for the first time since his entry problems to Australia, but caused further contradictions.

The Serbian tennis pro vehemently denied two allegations: Neither did he deliberately give false information about his travel behavior in the 14 days before the flight to Australia, nor did he, knowing his positive corona test, attend an event with children in December and move there without a mask .

Djokovic described the “misinformation” that needed to be corrected as “hurtful and worrying” to his family. He wants to point out that he has tried very hard for the safety of others and compliance with test specifications. It was important to him to clarify all of this, but he would not comment on the incidents out of respect for the Australian government.

Djokovic denies endangering others

At the event with children, at which he appeared without a mask on December 17th, according to previous information in the court documents, one day after “test and diagnosis”, he had not yet known about the positive result. He did a negative antigen test on December 16 and, out of sheer caution, also a PCR test. “I had no symptoms and felt fine and I received the news of the positive PCR test only after the event,” wrote Djokovic. On the same day, however, the professional tennis player also took part in a ceremony to present postage stamps with his picture. However, he did not mention this event in his statement.

Djokovic blamed his agent for the false information on his immigration form, which stated that he had not traveled in the 14 days before his flight to Australia. Its “human error” was “certainly not intentional”. Australian media had previously reported that Djokovic had also been in Serbia in the 14 days before his departure from Spain, but this was not stated on the form.

Interview despite a positive test

Djokovic admitted one of the allegations directed against him in his Instagram statement: During an interview with the French sports newspaper “L’Equipe” on December 18, he already knew about his positive test result and still did not cancel the appointment. He just kept his distance and only removed his mask for the photographer, said Djokovic. “Although I went home after the interview and went into isolation for the prescribed length of time, after careful thought that was a miscalculation and I understand that I should have postponed this commitment,” he wrote.

Ministerial decision is still pending

Djokovic was refused entry to Australia to participate in the Australian Open at Melbourne Airport last week because he was not vaccinated against the coronavirus and the documentation of his medical exemption was insufficient for the authorities. Because the border officials had not given him the agreed time to clarify, the decision was overturned during a court hearing on Monday.

Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has since reserved the right to make use of his personal rights and still invalidate Djokovic’s visa. This decision is still pending and should not be made before Thursday. This was reported by the Australian news agency AAP. New information from the 34-year-old Serb’s lawyers had postponed the time frame, said the office of the Australian immigration minister. Other documents had been submitted that could prove relevant to a possible cancellation of Djokovic’s visa. “That will of course affect the time frame for a decision,” it said.

According to Christopher Levingston, expert on immigration law, the government could cancel Djokovic’s visa on criminal grounds, for example because the travel declaration was not filled out correctly. The immigration minister could also cancel the visa for reasons of character: If Djokovic knowingly circumvented Serbia’s isolation rules for positive cases, he could be classified as a risk because he might not follow public health orders while in Australia, Levingston said.

Djokovic wants to take part in the Australian Open, which starts next Monday. He would start there as the defending champion.

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