Djokovic faces five years in jail if found to have lied over positive Covid test
Novak Djokovic could face five years in prison if he is found to have lied about his positive Covid test in Australia.
The world number sensationally admitted to lying on his entry declaration form and interacting with others while knowingly infected with Covid.
While the world awaits immigration minister Alex Hawke’s final decision regarding his visa, Djokovic is reeling following accusations of lying.
In a sworn court affidavit relied upon by the Federal Circuit Court, the 34-year-old admitted he knew he was Covid positive on 16 December. Djokovic said: “On 16 December 2021, I was tested and diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 (Covid).”
However, Djokovic later claimed in a public statement he was aware on 17 December. Under Australia’s Crimes Act, providing misleading information to the court is a crime punishable by five years in prison.
In regards to his original statement, Djokovic admitted he broke Serbia’s Covid rules as he was seen out and about despite knowingly testing positive. Prime Minister Ana Brnabic told the BBC recently that going out after a positive test was a ‘clear breach’.
Per Article 248 – ‘Failure to Act Pursuant to Health Regulations During Epidemic’ – whoever fails to comply with the rules faces a maximum penalty of three years in prison.
The findings come amid reports the Australian Border Force is investigating Djokovic following concerns he incorrectly declared he had not travelled – and would not do so for two weeks – prior to his flight to Australia.
Social media posts appear to show the Serb in Belgrade on Christmas Day before flying Down Under from Spain on January 4.
The declaration is accompanied with a warning that giving false or misleading information is a ‘serious offence’, also punishable by civil penalties.
A Twitter post by a Portuguese tennis reporter, Jose Morgado, appears to show Djokovic was in Belgrade at Christmas, posing with the handball star Petar Djordjic.
Djokovic addressed the declaration, claiming it was an ‘administrative mistake’ made by his agent.
“My agent sincerely apologises for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box about my previous travel before coming to Australia,” said Djokovic. “This was a human error and certainly not deliberate.”
Djokovic arrived in the country to compete in the opening grand slam of the season only for border guards to reject his documents and place him in detention.
Officials ruled the 34-year-old did not meet the exemption criteria whereby all non-Australians had to be fully vaccinated against Covid.
Following the Serb’s successful appeal on Monday, the Australian government agreed to revoke their decision to cancel his visa.
However, Djokovic’s fate will be decided by immigration minister Alex Hawke, who can personally intervene and decide to cancel his visa anyway – which would see Djokovic banned from Australia for three years.
A decision is expected on Thursday.
Djokovic is eyeing a record 10th Australian Open title, while he could move clear of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 Grand Slam wins – the most men’s major singles title in history.
After his successful appeal, Djokovic returned to training in Melbourne, with doors locked and only his support team allowed to accompany him at the Rod Laver Arena.
Australian Open qualifying began on January 10, with the full tournament kicking off a week later and concluding on January 30.
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