Australia ‘preparing’ case to deport Novak Djokovic as not doing so ‘would set dangerous precedent'
THE Aussie government is reportedly "preparing" a case to deport Novak Djokovic as not booting him out "would set a dangerous precedent”, an insider has claimed.
Anti-vaxxer Djokovic's visa is hanging in the balance as ministers consider whether to kick him out after he admitted flouting Covid rules and blamed his agent for wrongly filling in a form declaring he hadn't visited any countries before arriving in Australia.
Since a judge reinstated his visa on Monday, the federal government has been mulling whether to use "personal discretion" to move ahead with another cancellation.
Immigration minister Alex Hawke has confirmed he is "thoroughly" considering whether to deport Djokovic, with his office today revealing the star's lawyers have handed over further submissions.
But it's understood the Aussie government is leaning towards removing Djokovic from the country.
According to the Herald Sun, an unnamed government source said allowing him to remain in the country and compete in the Australian Open would set a “dangerous precedent”.
The source reportedly told the paper the government was prepared to endure an international backlash to uphold what it considers the national interest.
A decision has yet to be made – but Mr Hawke's office has said additional submissions could delay this.
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“Mr Djokovic’s lawyers have recently provided lengthy further submissions and supporting documentation said to be relevant to the possible cancellation of Mr Djokovic’s visa,” a spokesperson for Mr Hawke said.
“Naturally, this will affect the timeframe for a decision."
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On arrival in Oz on January 5, the 20-time Grand Slam winner dramatically had his visa cancelled, but his lawyers argued that he didn't need to have the vaccine as he had already had Covid and that border force officials hadn't given enough notice to revoke his visa.
He was released from detention on Monday, but is waiting to hear whether his visa will again be revoked.
Meanwhile, the Australian Border Force is reportedly expanding its investigation into Djokovic due to potential inconsistencies in documents related to PCR test in December and movements after, reports CNN.
It comes as Djokovic faces widespread anger after coming clean about knowingly flouting isolation measures while infected in Serbia – which according to his country's laws is punishable by up to three years behind bars.
In a lengthy statement today, Djokovic admitted he defied rules and took part in a photo shoot and interview with French newspaper L'Equipe in an "error of judgement" two days after testing positive.
The 34-year-old posed maskless for a photo shoot, but says he wore a face covering for the rest of the meeting.
"I want to emphasise that I have tried very hard to ensure the safety of everyone and my compliance with testing obligations," Djokovic wrote on Instagram.
"I attended a basketball game in Belgrade on December 14 after which it was reported that a number of people tested positive with Covid-19.
"Despite having no Covid symptoms, I took a rapid antigen test on December 16 which was negative, and out of an abundance of caution, also took an official and approved PCR test on that same day."
The following day, Djokovic attended a ceremony at the Novak Tennis Centre in Belgrade – but insists he was "asymptomatic and felt good" and claims wasn't told he had Covid until after the event.
He says he took a rapid test before the event on December 17, which was negative.
"The next day on Decemeber 18 I was at my tennis centre in Belgrade to fulfil a long-standing commitment for a L’Equipe interview and photoshoot. I cancelled all other events," he added.
"I felt obliged to go ahead and conduct the L'Equipe interview as I didn't want to let the journalist down.
"[I ensured] I socially distanced and wore a mask except when my photograph was being taken.
"While I went home after the interview to isolate for the required period, on reflection, this was an error of judgement and I accept that I should have rescheduled the commitment."
Under Serbian law, breaking Covid rules can result in a jail sentence.
Article 248 of the Criminal Code under Serbian Law states: “Whoever during an epidemic of a dangerous contagious disease fails to act pursuant to regulations, decisions or orders setting forth measures for its suppression or prevention, shall be punished by a fine or imprisonment of up to three years.”
It remains unclear at what point Djokovic knew he had tested positive with Covid, but evidence submitted by his own lawyers says he took a PCR test just after 1pm on December 16.
Documentation from the Institute of Public Health of Serbia states the result came back positive the same day, at around 8pm.
Djokovic's family quickly halted their press conference on Monday after a question was asked about what happened after the day after he tested positive for Covid on December 16.
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