The immigration authorities in Australia said on Tuesday that they were investigating whether Novak Djokovic could be charged with making a false statement on his visa entry form as the controversy over the Serbian tennis star’s Covid vaccination exemption continued.
Djokovic, who had to gain an exemption to enter Australia because he has shunned Covid vaccines, stated on his entry form that he had not traveled internationally in the 14 days before his flight on Jan. 4 from Spain, via Dubai, to Australia, where he plans to compete in the Australian Open starting on Monday.
DCO Global News
Published on January 11, 2022
By Odoh Dominic Chukwuemeka
That appeared to be contradicted by social media posts that showed him in Serbia on Christmas Day, hitting tennis balls in the streets of Belgrade in one video, and posing with handball player Petar Djordjic, in a picture posted to Twitter by José Morgado, a Portuguese sports journalist, Petar Djordjic.
Mr. Djokovic was detained upon arrival at the airport in Melbourne last week, questioned over his exemption and had his visa canceled. The nine-time Australian Open champion spent four nights in immigration detention until a judge ruled on Monday that he had been treated unfairly and reinstated his visa, allowing him to enter the country.
But Alex Hawke, Australia’s immigration minister, said on Monday that he was still considering whether to rescind the tennis star’s visa for a second time.
Australia, which is in the grip of a large coronavirus surge, and where 78 percent of people are fully vaccinated, requires all visitors to be fully inoculated against Covid-19. Immigration laws also allow the government to deport Mr. Djokovic or any other visa holder for even the smallest of violations: a slight risk to public health, an incorrect statement on immigration forms or a perceived deficit of character.
The controversy over Mr. Djokovic, one of many sports figures increasingly scorned for vaccine skepticism, has created a political headache for Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison. A proponent of tough border enforcement, Mr. Morrison is facing questions over whether his government has tried to make an example of Mr. Djokovic, who entered the country with documents proving that he had obtained an exemption based on a recent coronavirus infection.
The exemption had been endorsed by a doctor and an independent panel from the state of Victoria, where the Australian Open is held.
On Tuesday, Mr. Morrison’s office said that he had spoken by phone with Prime Minister Ana Brnabic of Serbia to discuss Australia’s border policies. Serbian officials have previously accused Australia of trying to humiliate Mr. Djokovic, who is revered in his home country.
By Odoh Dominic Chukwuemeka
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