Novak Djokovic no doubt expected that the pressure on him would abate following his victory at the Australian Federal Court which overturned his deportation and reinstated his visa.
We are living in challenging times in a global pandemic and sometimes these mistakes can occur, Novak Djokovic
That has not proved to be the case as more problems have arisen in connection with his documentation and the credibility of his Covid claims, as the Australian Immigration Minster Alex Hawke, reassess all the facts in order to decide whether to allow him to stay and compete at the Australian Open, or escort him to the first plane back to Serbia.
As that decision is awaited, Novak Djokovic has been made the top seed for the Australian Open which starts in Melbourne on Monday the 17th January, where he hopes to win the title for a record 10th time and in the process, also set a new record of grand slam titles won at 21.
If he is still in the country he will play fellow countryman Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round!
For obvious reasons the Australia Government don’t want to be humiliated again should the decision be to cancel his visa for second time and deport him, for it will more than likely be contested and appealed against with extensions to allow him to play in the first grand slam of the season.
In an attempt to minimise the inaccuracies which have now arisen in his travel papers and his not isolating after his claimed coronavirus infection, Djokovic released a statement on Wednesday whilst he was practicing.
“We are living in challenging times in a global pandemic and sometimes these mistakes can occur,” the now confirmed unvaccinated 34-year-old wrote while describing the reports about his post infection outings in Serbia as ‘misinformation’.
The outings he is referring to took place some 24-hours after he had tested positive on Dec 16 and involved visits to a youth centre where he handed out awards and embraced children, and then attended a ceremony where a Serbian stamp bearing his image was unveiled.
On both occasions he was pictured unmasked but he maintains he was masked before the pictures were taken and at the time, was still awaiting the result of the PCR test.
He also admitted he did an interview and photoshoot for the French L’Equipe sports newspaper on December18.
“I felt obliged to go ahead and conduct the L’Equipe interview as I didn’t want to let the journalist down but did ensure I socially distanced and wore a mask except when my photograph was being taken,” he said.
“On reflection, this was an error of judgement and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment.”
The player said he also had two rapid antigen tests, which both returned negative results: one on December 16 when he first suspected being infected after attending a basketball match and one on December 17 before going to the children’s tennis event.
And as regards the mistakes on his travel document, he blamed a member of his team for ticking the wrong box which basically said he had not travelled anywhere during the 14 days prior to flying to Australia. He had in fact gone to Spain which was duly recorded on social media.
“This was submitted by my support team on my behalf,” Djokovic said.
“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.”
But the discrepancies didn’t end there.
The German newspaper Der Spiegel reported it had scanned the QR code given to the court referring to Djokovic’s test and discovered it was negative. A positive result was recorded an hour later with a different code.
The deportation which is backed by the majority of Aussies who believe he is taunting them, is turning into a bit of a mine-field with the Immigration Office spokesman confirming Mr Hawke is considering taking that action but revealing ‘lengthy further submissions’ from the players lawyers, is delaying the delaying the decision.
“Naturally, this will affect the timeframe for a decision,” is how he clarified the situation.
Having been caught out last Monday on a procedural mistake, the Government want to be certain of their ground this time round.
The travel declaration is a criminal offence and could lead to incarceration and a three-year ban from Australia.
Also, the fact that Djokovic dodged the 14-day Serbian isolation requirements by attending functions after his positive test being viewed as a dangerous tendency by the player of ignoring health concerns which is a worry for Australians.
Mr Hawke though, has the authority to cancel that visa and over-rule the court.