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Djokovic admits “mistakes” in his fight to avoid deportation from Australia

Djokovic admite "errores" en su lucha por evitar la deportación de Australia

World tennis number one Novak Djokovic admitted "mistakes" in his travel documents and in his behavior after testing positive for COVID-19, as he struggles to remain in Australia to contest a new Grand Slam title.

The Serbian assured that his advisers presented new information to the Australian government, which is analyzing whether to cancel his visa again and deport him or allow him to play the Australian Open.

"We are living in difficult times with a global pandemic and sometimes these mistakes happen"said the 34-year-old tennis player, who is not vaccinated, in a statement on his Instagram account, disclosed while training for the tournament in Melbourne.

The Serbian tennis player arrived in Australia last week with a medical exemption granted by the tournament organizers because he tested positive for COVID-19 on December 16.

Border agents canceled the visa, understanding that a recent infection did not exempt him from the obligation to be vaccinated, and they sent him to a migrant detention center in Melbourne.

But his team of lawyers managed to get a judge to reverse the decision on Monday because of a procedural error during his questioning at Melbourne airport.

With this, the Australian Minister of Immigration, Alex Hawke, must decide whether to cancel the visa again when new doubts emerge.

A spokesperson acknowledged to Australian media that the department was receiving "extensive documentation" of the player’s attorneys. "Naturally, this will affect the timeframe for (making) the decision", he indicated.

‘Misinformation’

In his public statement, the nine-time Australian Open winner qualified as "disinformation" the versions that have circulated about his public appearances in Serbia after the covid-19 test.

The player said he tested positive for COVID-19 in a PCR test taken on December 16. That same day, he appeared without a mask at the launch of some stamps with his image and, a day later, at an event for young tennis players in Belgrade, also without a mask.

But Djokovic noted that he did not receive a positive PCR test result until December 17, after the youth event.

According to his version, a rapid antigen test was performed both days and it was negative. To be more cautious, he underwent a PCR on December 16.

But the tennis player admitted that he attended an interview and a photo shoot with the French sports daily L’Equipe on December 18.

"I felt obliged to carry out the interview with L’Equipe because I did not want to look bad with the journalist, but I was careful to maintain social distancing and I used a mask, except when my photograph was taken", he indicated.

"On reflection, this was an error of judgment and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment", he indicated.

"The slogan was clear: no questions about the vaccination and the Serbian’s intentions about his presence at the next Australian Open"the L’Équipe journalist told the newspaper on Tuesday.

‘Human error’

"The news according to which Novak Djokovic did not inform one of our members – and the rest of the L’Équipe staff present that day – that he had tested positive for covid-19 is very worrying"The International Tennis Journalists Association (ITWA) said in a statement to CNN, which recalls that all its members must be vaccinated to cover the tournament.

‘Nole’ also recognized a "human error" in the travel declaration submitted to the Australian migration, in which he checked the box indicating that he had not traveled 14 days before the flight to Melbourne.

However, it was revealed on social media and media that he traveled from Serbia to Spain in that period.

"On the issue of my travel declaration, it was submitted by my support team on my behalf – as I told the migration officials upon my arrival – and my agent sincerely apologizes for the clerical error in checking the wrong box on my previous trips before coming to Australia" clarified.

Immigration lawyer Christopher Levingston pointed out that the government could cancel Djokovic’s visa for criminal reasons, for example due to inaccurate travel declaration.

But the immigration minister could also revoke the visa for broader reasons, claiming that Djokovic evaded Serbia’s health requirements when he learned of his infection, or for breaching Australia’s public health rules, according to Levingston.

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