The Australian Border Force is investigating whether Novak Djokovic incorrectly declared he had not traveled and would not do so for two weeks before his flight to Australia, in the latest twist in the tennis star’s visa cancellation saga.
Questions have been raised about the declaration completed by an agent for Djokovic, with social media posts seemingly showing he was in Belgrade on Christmas Day before flying to Australia from Spain on Jan. 4.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday received a call from Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabi, in which he sought to manage the diplomatic fallout of the overturned visa cancellation by insisting Australia’s border policies were non-discriminatory.
Despite a win in court restoring his visa on Monday, Djokovic’s fate is now to be determined by Australian Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alex Hawke, due to his personal power to again cancel the visa and deport the world’s No. 1 male tennis player.
Any decision to recancel the visa would likely be met by a fresh legal challenge from Djokovic, and a request for an injunction to stay out of immigration detention so that he could play in the Australian Open, where he is chasing a male record 21st grand slam singles title.
To recancel the visa, Hawke would have to be satisfied there are grounds for cancelation, such as a threat to public safety, and that cancelation was in the public interest.
That could bring fresh scrutiny to Djokovic’s pre-travel declaration and his public appearances in the days after his positive COVID-19 test result of Dec. 16 last year.
In his Australian traveler declaration, filed on Jan. 1, Djokovic declared “no” when asked: “Have you traveled 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.
In documents filed to the federal circuit court, Djokovic said that on Jan. 1 he authorized his agent to submit this declaration, before traveling to Melbourne from Spain via Dubai on Tuesday last week.
Asked if the travel declaration could provide fresh grounds to cancel Djokovic’s visa, a spokesperson for Hawke said the minister was still considering whether to exercise his power to do so.
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