Defending men's champion Serbia's Novak Djokovic practices on Rod Laver Arena ahead of the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022. AP Photo/Mark Baker)

Djokovic admits travel declaration had incorrect information

Djokovic admits travel declaration had incorrect information

Djokovic admits travel declaration had incorrect information

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) —

Novak Djokovic has acknowledged that his Australian travel declaration form contained incorrect information, as the government nears a decision on whether to deport the Serbian tennis star, who is not vaccinated against COVID-19, on public interest grounds.

The men’s tennis No. 1 had his visa canceled on arrival in Melbourne last week when his vaccination exemption was questioned, but he won a legal battle on procedural grounds that allowed him to stay in the country. He still faces the prospect of deportation — a decision that is entirely at the discretion of Australia’s Immigration Minister Alex Hawke if deemed to be in the public interest for health and safety reasons.

Hawke has been considering the question since a judge reinstated Djokovic’s visa on Monday.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said most Australians disapproved of the nine-time and defending Australian Open champion coming to Melbourne to compete in breach of the nation’s tough pandemic quarantine rules.

“Most of us thought because Mr. Djokovic hadn’t been vaxxed twice that he would be asked to leave,” Joyce told Nine Network television on Thursday. “Well, that was our view, but it wasn’t the court’s view.”

“The vast majority of Australians … didn’t like the idea that another individual, whether they’re a tennis player or … the king of Spain or the Queen of England, can come up here and have a different set of rules to what everybody else has to deal with,” Joyce added.

The debate over Djokovic’s presence in Australia rages against a backdrop of surging COVID-19 infections across the nation.

Victoria state, which hosts the Australian Open, on Thursday eased seven-day isolation rules for close contacts of those infected in sectors including education and transport to curb the number of employees staying away from work.

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