Did Novak LIE? Huge twist as Border Force investigate bombshell claims the star made a ‘false declaration’
- Border Force investigating if Novak Djokovic lied on entry form to Australia
- He claimed he had not travelled in 14 days prior to arrival in Melbourne
- Left Spain for Australia on Jan 4, photos from December 25 show him in Serbia
The Australian Border Force has launched a fresh investigation into Novak Djokovic after it emerged the tennis star may have lied on a travel declaration form before coming to the country.
Court documents released as part of the row over Djokovic’s visa show the 34-year-old filled out a travel declaration form stating he would not travel to any other countries in the 14 days prior to boarding his flight to Australia on January 4.
That means Djokovic would have needed to remain in the same country since December 21. But social media images appear to show that he was in Belgrade, Serbia, on December 25 and then in Marbella, Spain, from December 31 until catching his flight to Australia, via Dubai.
It is not clear whether admitting he had travelled to Spain would have automatically disqualified Djokovic from coming to Australia – however, lying on a travel declaration document is punishable by up to 12 months in jail.
News of the investigation is just the latest twist in the Djokovic border saga which saw him thrown in immigration detention on January 5 when the government ripped up his visa for not being vaccinated, before he was freed by a judge yesterday.
Djokovic is now in Melbourne where he has been pictured training at the Rod Laver Arena today, but his fate is still not assured after Australia’s immigration minister threatened to use his personal powers to shred the tennis star’s visa.
Novak Djokovic claimed on his entry form that he had not travelled in the 14 days leading up to his arrival in Melbourne shortly before midnight on January 5 after flying in from Spain
DECEMBER 25, SERBIA: A photo uploaded to Twitter on Christmas Day shows Djokovic with handball player Petar Djordjic in Belgrade
DECEMBER 31, SPAIN : Video uploaded by a tennis training academy on New Year’s Eve purports to show Djokovic training in Marbella
JANUARY 2, SPAIN: Another image uploaded to Twitter by a fan appears to show Djokovic training in Marbella last week
According to his sworn affidavit, Djokovic departed Spain on January 4 and had a stopover in Dubai before landing in Melbourne late on the night of January 5.
The timings mean Djokovic would have had to be in Spain from 11.30pm on December 22 AEDT, or 1.30pm Spanish time to comply with the rules not to travel within two weeks of arriving in Australia, the Herald Sun reported.
But social media posts show Djokovic playing tennis in the streets of Belgrade on December 25 while another post shared on the same day by Serbian handball star Petar Djordjic shows him posing with the tennis star.
‘ONE AND ONLY !!!!! Thank you for the picture and for the nice wishes,’ Djordjic captioned the photo.
Six days later on New Years Eve, footage emerged of Djokovic having a hit out on the tennis court in south-east Spain.
‘We can confirm Novak Djokovic is ready for the Australian if possible!’ Soto Tennis Academy captioned the footage.
A close-up photo posted by the academy shows Djokovic using tennis balls emblazoned with the Australian Open logo.
Australian Border Force officials are investigating claims Novak Djokovic (pictured on arrival in Melbourne last week) lied on his entry form
The maximum penalty for providing false or misleading information to the Australian government is 12 months imprisonment.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted the ABF for further comment.
Djokovic was finally released from five days in immigration detention following Monday’s court ruling on Monday.
The court decision sparked wild scenes from supporters on the streets of Melbourne and tournament directors are now on high alert amid fears of violence in the stands should Djokovic play next week.
The nine-time Australian Open champion is still not a guaranteed starter for the event, which gets underway in six days.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has refused to rule out using his personal powers to cancel Djokovic’s visa yet again and boot him out of the country – sparking a furious response from one-time tennis star and MP colleague John Alexander, who warned about the future of the Open.
‘So what would be the ‘public interest’ the Minister could potentially use to exercise his personal powers to deport our defending Australian Open tennis champion?’ Mr Alexander posted on Monday night.
‘The minister’s ‘personal powers to cancel visas’ are designed to prevent criminals otherwise walking our streets, or to prevent a contagious person otherwise walking our streets; they’re not designed to assist in dealing with a potential political problem of the day.’
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić (pictured) discussed the ongoing Djokovic saga in a phone call with Australian counterpart Scott Morrison on Tuesday
Following the court decision, which the government says was ‘on a procedural ground’, Mr Hawke is considering whether to use his discretionary personal powers to cancel Djokovic’s visa.
‘The minister is currently considering the matter and the process remains ongoing,’ a spokesman told AAP.
Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce admitted he was wrong about the tennis star in a strong hint he may not be deported.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Serbian counterpart has requested direct liaison between governments about issues over Djokovic’s visa.
The prime minister’s office said Mr Morrison had a constructive call with Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić on Tuesday morning.
In the call, Mr Morrison explained Australia’s non-discriminatory border policy and its role in protecting the country during the covid pandemic.
The two leaders agreed to stay in contact on the issue, and to further strengthening the bilateral relationship.
Serbia’s public broadcaster, RTS, reported the Serbian prime minister asked Mr Morrison to ensure the tennis star was treated with dignity.
‘The (Serbian) prime minister especially emphasised the importance of the conditions for training and physical preparation for the upcoming competition, considering that Novak Djokovic was not allowed to train in the previous days, and the tournament in Melbourne starts this weekend,’ RTS reported.
‘The prime minister also asked (Mr) Morrison to be in direct contact in the coming days and for all information to be exchanged directly between the government of Serbia and the government of Australia.’
It comes as the fallout over the cancellation of Djokovic’s visa – which was then overturned – continues to make international headlines.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the Australian Open was bigger than one player but that he was not lobbying Mr Hawke to act either way.
‘I’m not going to be out there every day calling for him to use them or not use them, that’s a matter for him,’ he said.
‘He ought to do that free of any pressure, free of any public debate.‘
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