After Novak Djokovic admitted to errors on his travel declaration form, an immigration lawyer tells us expect more legal wranglings, ITV News Sports Editor Steve Scott reports
Novak Djokovic has admitted he attended a newspaper interview and photoshoot after testing positive for Covid-19, and said it was an "error of judgment".
The men's tennis world number one took to social media to address the "continuing misinformation" about his movements while he was infectious last month and errors on a travel declaration form he used to enter Australia.
Djokovic is the subject of controversy after the Australian Open granted him a medical exemption from a Covid vaccine and then his visa into Australia was revoked and then reinstated.
The tennis star admitted on Instagram on Wednesday he had attended an interview and photoshoot for French newspaper L'Equipe at his tennis centre in Belgrade, Serbia, on December 18 - a day after he received his positive PCR test result.
He explained that he cancelled other events but felt obliged to go ahead with the interview as it was a "long-standing commitment" and he "didn't want to let the journalist down".
But he said he ensured he was socially distanced and wore a mask except when his photo was being taken.
He continued in his social media post: "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 this commitment."
He clarified he attended a children's tennis event in Belgrade before being notified of his positive PCR result.
He said he was asymptomatic and had taken a rapid antigen test before going to the event.
Addressing reports he had falsely claimed on a travel declaration form he had not travelled two weeks before his flight to Australia, he said the form was submitted by his support team on his behalf.
He wrote that "my agent sincerely apologises for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box about my previous travel before coming to Australia.
"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."
Djokovic said he felt the need to address the reports "in the interest of alleviating broader concern in the community about my presence in Australia, and to address matters which are very hurtful and concerning to my family."
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John Findley, an Australian immigration lawyer, told ITV News that any evidence that emerges in The Australian Border Force's investigation showing Djokovic falsely filled in the form will most likely lead to the re-cancelling of his visa.
The nine-time and defending Australian Open champion has since been in the Rod Laver Arena holding a practice session against Tristan Schoolkate, a 20-year-old Australian, ahead of the Australian Open, which starts next Monday.
On Monday, he won a legal battle against the Australian government's decision to cancel his visa and deport him upon his arrival in Melbourne.
But he could still be deported by the government under separate powers at the discretion of immigration minister Alex Hawke due to not being vaccinated against Covid-19.
Mr Hawke’s office issued a statement saying Djokovic’s legal team had filed further documents against the the potential cancellation of his visa and added: “Naturally, this will affect the timeframe for a decision.”
Another Australia-based immigration lawyer Greg Barnes said if Djokovic’s visa is re-cancelled, his lawyers could go back to court to apply for an injunction that would prevent him from being forced to leave the country.
Djokovic has continually refused to reveal if he is vaccinated against coronavirus.
Meanwhile, there is growing concern about rising Covid-19 cases in Australia.
Victoria state, whose capital Melbourne is hosting the Australian Open, reported 40,127 new cases and 21 Covid deaths on Wednesday.
Deputy Premier James Merlino said the state’s healthcare system is strained, with around 6,600 workers off work due to Covid.