The Australian Border Force is investigating claims that Novak Djokovic allegedly lied on his entry form to enter the country in another twist to the ongoing visa saga.
The ABF is examining whether the Australian Open champion made a false declaration claiming he had not travelled in the 14 days leading up to his arrival in Melbourne.
All travellers arriving in Australia are asked if they have ‘travelled or will travel in the 14 days prior to your flight to Australia’.
They are also warned: ‘Giving false or misleading information is a serious offence. You may also be liable to a civil penalty for giving false or misleading information.’
Djokovic ticked ‘No’ in response to the question, however that appears to be in direct conflict with the timeline of his recent movements documented on social media.
There’s been another twist in the ongoing saga of Novak Djokovic’s arrival in Australia, six days before the Australian Open gets underway
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
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.
On Christmas Day, Serbian handball star Petar Djordjic (left) uploaded a photo posing with fellow Serbian Novak Djokovic (right)
Footage emerged of Djokovic having a hit out on the court at a tennis academy in south-east Spain on New Year’s Eve
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.’
Australian Border Force officials are investigating claims Novak Djokovic (pictured on arrival in Melbourne last week) lied on his entry form
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.‘
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić (pictured) discussed the ongoing Djokovic saga in a phone call with Australian counterpart Scott Morrison on Tuesday