Updated Jan 12, 2022 - Sports

Djokovic admits travel papers "mistake" as Australia visa decision looms

 Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits a return during a practice session ahead of the Australian Open at the Melbourne Park tennis centre in Melbourne on January 12
Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits a return during a practice session ahead of the Australian Open at the Melbourne Park tennis centre in Melbourne on Jan. 12. Photo: William West/AFP via Getty Images

Novak Djokovic apologized Wednesday for not isolating after testing positive for COVID-19 and blamed his agent for an "administrative mistake" when making an incorrect declaration in his Australian travel document.

Why it matters: Australia's immigration minister is still considering whether to revoke the men's tennis world No. 1's visa and deport him, despite Djokovic winning his legal case to stay in the country and defend his Australian Open title at the tournament, which begins Monday.

  • If he wins, the unvaccinated Serbian star would set a record 21st Grand Slam title.

The big picture: Australian border officials last week canceled Djokovic's visa over his COVID-19 vaccination status.

  • Djokovic said in a statement Wednesday that his support team had completed his travel documents on his behalf before he left for Australia, and they incorrectly ticked a box saying he hadn't traveled in the two weeks before his flight to Australia. He was seen in Spain and Serbia during this period.
  • "My agent sincerely apologises for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box," the 34-year-old wrote. "This was a human error and certainly not deliberate."
  • He also told French sports newspaper L'Equipe he'd taken part in an interview and a photo shoot in Serbia after testing positive for the virus in December — an "apparent violation" of the country's pandemic rules, the New York Times notes.

What's next: Australia's immigration minister, Alex Hawke, is expected to make a decision on whether to revoke Djokovic's visa on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Australian Border Force is investigating whether Djokovic made a "false declaration" in the pre-travel declaration. This could also be grounds for a visa cancellation.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with details of Djokovic's interview with L'Equipe and the Australian Border Force investigation.

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