Novak Djokovic in limbo for another day amid probe into whether he lied on entry form

By Andrew Gamble

The Australian Border Force is investigating Novak Djokovic after concerns arose suggesting he incorrectly declared he had not travelled and would not do so for two weeks prior to his flight to Australia.

In the latest twist of the ongoing saga, social media posts appear to show Djokovic in Belgrade on Christmas Day before flying Down Under from Spain on January 4.

The world number one sensationally won an appeal on Monday against the Australian government after they cancelled his visa last Thursday.

Djokovic argued he had a vaccination exemption allowing him to play in the Australian Open, but his exemption was only signed off by Tennis Australia and the Victorian government rather than the federal government.

Novak Djokovic trained at Melbourne Park after he was released from the federal detention centre (via REUTERS)

He arrived in the country to compete in the opening Grand Slam of the season only for border guards to reject his documents and place him in detention.

Officials ruled Djokovic did not meet the exemption criteria whereby all non-Australians had to be fully vaccinated against Covid.

Following the Serb’s successful appeal on Monday, the Australian government agreed to revoke their decision to cancel his visa.

However, Djokovic’s fate will be decided by immigration minister Alex Hawke, who can personally intervene and decide to cancel his visa anyway - which would see Djokovic banned from Australia for three years.

Hawke would have to be satisfied with the grounds for cancellation of Djokovic’s visa, such as a threat to public safety, and that cancellation was in the public interest.

Such a decision would likely be met by a legal challenge from Djokovic, as well as a request for an injunction to stay out of immigration detention so that he could play in the Australian Open.

It is understood Hawke's decision will not come until Wednesday at the earliest.

In his Australian traveller declaration filed on January 1, Djokovic declared ‘no’ when asked: “Have you travelled or will you travel in the 14 days prior to your flight to Australia?”

The declaration is accompanied with a warning that giving false or misleading information is a ‘serious offence’, also punishable by civil penalties.

Novak Djokovic won his ninth Australian Open title in 2021, defeating Daniil Medvedev in the final (Getty Images)

In documents filed to the federal circuit court, Djokovic said he authorised his agent to submit this declaration, before travelling to Melbourne from Spain via Dubai on January 4.

In his interview with border force officials on January 6, Djokovic confirmed the declaration was completed by his agent in line with his Tennis Australia-approved medical exemption.

A Twitter post by a Portuguese tennis reporter, Jose Morgado, appears to show Djokovic was in Belgrade at Christmas, posing with the handball star Petar Djordjic.

A spokesperson for Hawke said the minister was still considering whether to exercise his power to cancel Djokovic’s visa: “In line with due process, minister Hawke will thoroughly consider the matter.”

The ATP released a statement expressing their regret at the controversy, and announced 97% of the top 100 players are vaccinated - placing Djokovic firmly in the minority.

“Complications in recent days related to player entry into Australia have... highlighted the need for clearer understanding, communication and application of the rules,” said the ATP in a statement.

Tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer for the most Grand Slam titles in men's singles history, Novak Djokovic is hoping to claim his 21st major title in Melbourne (via REUTERS)

“In travelling to Melbourne, it's clear Novak Djokovic believed he had been granted a necessary medical exemption in order to comply with entry regulations.

“The series of events leading to Monday's court hearing have been damaging on all fronts, including for Novak's well-being and preparation for the Australian Open.”

Djokovic is eyeing a record 10th Australian Open title, while he could move clear of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 Grand Slam wins - the most men’s major singles title in history.

Australian Open qualifying began on January 10, with the full tournament kicking off a week later and concluding on January 30.


What is inkl?

Important stories

See news based on value, not advertising potential. Get the latest news from around the world.

Trusted newsrooms

We bring you reliable news from the world’s most experienced journalists in the most trusted newsrooms.

Ad-free reading

Read without interruptions, distractions or intrusions of privacy.