World tennis No. 1 and vaccine opponent Novak Djokovic blamed “human error” on Wednesday for a mistake in his Australian immigration paperwork and apologised for breaking isolation for a photoshoot when he had COVID-19 last month.
The 34-year-old Serbian superstar is chasing a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam victory at the Australian Open beginning on Monday, but could be deported by the government which is unhappy with his medical exemption from inoculation.
The unvaccinated Djokovic was held alongside asylum-seekers at an immigration detention hotel in Melbourne for several days before a judge said that was unreasonable and ordered him free.
Though training now for the tournament at Melbourne Park, Djokovic could still have his visa cancelled again if Immigration Minister Alex Hawke exercises discretionary power.
Djokovic’s cause was not helped by a mistake in his Australian entry declaration where the “no” box was ticked saying he had not travelled elsewhere in the previous two weeks.
In fact, he had gone to Spain from Serbia.
“This was submitted by my support team on my behalf – as I told immigration officials on my arrival – and my agent sincerely apologises for the administrative mistake,” Djokovic said on Instagram
“This was a human error and certainly not deliberate. We are living in challenging times in a global pandemic and sometimes these mistakes can occur.”
Giving wrong information on the form carries a maximum penalty of 12 months’ prison plus a fine and potential visa cancellation. There is widespread anger among Australians, who have a 90% vaccination rate among adults, over the saga.
“I don’t like his arrogance,” said one Melbourne resident, Teyhan Ismain. “It does seem that he’s been telling a few fibs too. So I think he should just probably go back.” (REUTERS)