Novak Djokovic: Australian authorities investigating players declaration form as he returns to Australian Open practice

Australian authorities are investigating the declaration form Novak Djokovic provided to enter the country.

Since the tennis star won his court appeal against the cancellation of his visa, questions have emerged over the form.

It comes as the Serbian player returned to practice on the tennis court, with photos showing him at Melbourne Park, the venue for the Australian Open – which starts on 17 January and for which Djokovic has been named the number one seed.

The issue under scrutiny regarding the entry form is whether the tennis player might have incorrectly filled it out when he ticked a box indicating he hadn’t travelled in the 14 days prior to his arrival in Australia on 6 January.

In fact, the world number one did travel to Spain to train in that period.

Sky reporter Nicole Johnston said: “In that form you have to list which countries you have been to in the previous two weeks. He said he hadn’t been anywhere, but it turns out that Djokovic was in Spain.”

Johnston, who is in Melbourne, said the issue with Djokovic’s declaration form “seems to be delaying any announcement” on whether the government will decide to deport him.

Djokovic had been forced to stay in a Melbourne hotel after being blocked by border officials last week ahead of the competition due to him not being vaccinated against COVID.

He has said, despite what has happened, he would like to “stay and try to compete” at the Open.

However, Djokovic’s participation is still in limbo as he awaits a verdict from the Australian government, which has said it is still considering another way to deport him.

The ATP’s statement

Meanwhile, the dispute over Djokovic’s visa has been described as “damaging on all fronts” by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP).

The governing body of men’s tennis applauded the court’s ruling quashing the cancellation of his visa but called for greater clarity over the rules.

The ATP said the situation highlighted the need for a “clearer understanding, communication and application” of the requirements, before adding that it strongly recommends all players get vaccinated against COVID-19.

It said in a statement: “The ATP fully respects the sacrifices the people of Australia have made since the onset of COVID-19 and the stringent immigration policies that have been put in place.

“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.”

The ATP added that it “continues to strongly recommend” vaccination for all players, and 97% of the top 100 tennis stars have already been inoculated.

Australia’s entry policy and what the court said

Australia has a policy barring non-citizens or non-residents from entering the country unless they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

It does allow for medical exemptions, but the government argued that unvaccinated Djokovic did not provide adequate justification for an exemption.

Transcript of Australia Border Force interview shows tennis star’s shock at visa cancellation

The court ruled Djokovic was treated unfairly by border force officials on his arrival and ordered his visa cancellation be overturned.

It did not, however, address whether his exemption – based on Djokovic contracting COVID-19 last month – was valid.

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Djokovic ‘has no right to be here’

Following Djokovic’s successful court appeal, fellow tennis players have raised concerns about his exemption.

Wimbledon quarter-finalist Marton Fucsovics said he didn’t think the world champion had the right to play in the tournament.

Speaking to the Hungarian outlet M4Sport, Fucsovics said: “People’s health is paramount, and there are rules that were outlined months ago, namely that everyone should vaccinate themselves – and Djokovic didn’t.

“From this point of view, I don’t think he would have the right to be here.”

The 29-year-old, who lost to Djokovic in last year’s Wimbledon quarter-finals, also said news of the world number one’s exemption had received a negative reception among many other players.

Rafael Nadal offered belated support for the decision, having previously intimated it was wrong for his great rival to try to enter Australia.

He will face ‘difficult’ week

Djokovic’s former coach, Boris Becker, has warned that the tennis player faces a “difficult first week” at the Australian Open, if he is given the go-ahead to play, with many people still angry at the decision to let him into the country.

Mr Becker, who coached Djokovic for three seasons from 2014 to 2016, told the BBC: “I’m sure there will be a couple of boos and whistles, but he’s used to that.

“The crowd will be difficult with him but with each match he starts, he will win the crowd and they will embrace him again. But he is going to have a difficult first week.”

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