Immigration officials investigating Djokovic’s mistakes and COVID breaches

The department is also investigating new questions about whether Djokovic’s positive result for COVID-19 was manipulated after inconsistencies emerged about the timing and result of his PCR test.

In his Instagram post, Djokovic said he felt “obliged” to go ahead and conduct an interview with the French media organization The team on December 18 because he “didn’t want to let the journalist down, but made sure I was socially distancing and wearing a mask, except when my photo was being taken”.

“While I went home after the interview to isolate the required period, on reflection this was an error of judgment [sic] and I accept that I should have resisted this commitment,” he said.

Djokovic said he posted the message on social media to address the “persistent misinformation about my activities and attendance at events in December leading up to my positive PCR COVID test result”.

He said he attended a basketball game in Belgrade on December 14, after which it was reported that a number of people had been at the event who tested positive for COVID-19.

“Despite having no symptoms, I did a rapid antigen test on December 16, which was negative, and out of caution I also did an official and approved PCR test that same day,” Djokovic said.

“The next day I attended a tennis event in Belgrade to award prizes to children and I did a rapid antigen test before going to the event, and it was negative. I was asymptomatic and feeling well, and I had not been notified of a positive PCR test result until after that event.

“The next day, December 18, I was at my tennis center in Belgrade fulfilling a long-term commitment for a L’Equipe interview and photo shoot. I have canceled all other events except the L’Equipe interview.”

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic told the BBC that if Djokovic went out knowing he had a positive PCR result, it would be a “clear violation” of Serbian rules.

“If you’re positive, you should be in seclusion,” Ms Brnabic said.

“I don’t know when he got the results, when he saw the results, so there’s a gray area … the only answer to this can be given by Novak.”

The Serbian tennis star had been criticized for days over photos showing him attending public places in the days immediately after contracting COVID-19.

Despite the public outcry at the revelation, his admission may have been that his entry form was filled out incorrectly, which could have more serious consequences.

In his social media post, Djokovic confirmed that his Australian travel statement was submitted by “my support team on my behalf – as I told immigration officials on my arrival”.

He said his agent “apologies sincerely for the clerical error in ticking the wrong box about my previous trip before coming to Australia”.

“This was human error and certainly not intentional. We live in challenging times in a global pandemic and sometimes these mistakes can happen.

“Today my team provided additional information to the Australian government to clarify this matter.”

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A spokesman for Mr Hawke said on Wednesday that the Serbian tennis star’s lawyers had “recently submitted lengthy additional submissions and supporting documentation that would be relevant to the possible cancellation of Mr Djokovic’s visa”.

“Of course this affects the time frame for a decision,” they said.

In addition to the two concessions, Djokovic also faced new questions on Wednesday over whether his positive result for COVID-19 had been manipulated after inconsistencies emerged over the timing and result of his PCR test.

Djokovic was granted entry to Australia on the basis that he tested positive for COVID-19 on December 16, which he claimed gave him a valid exemption for not being vaccinated. But data in the test result URL of the Institute of Public Health of Serbia, linked in the QR code provided to Border Force as part of Djokovic’s visa application, suggests it has a timestamp of December 26.

Australian cybersecurity experts said there may be a valid explanation for the discrepancies revealed by German publication the mirror, but there were legitimate questions to answer.

Robert Potter, co-CEO of cybersecurity firm Internet 2.0, confirmed there were inconsistencies between the timestamps in the documentation Djokovic presented to Border Guard officials, and the URL associated with the QR code on one of Djokovic’s tests.

“I cannot interpret the medical implications, but I would say there is sufficient evidence to question the reliability of his papers submitted to the Australian government regarding his positive test,” said Mr Potter.

“The timestamp in the QR code of his positive test does not match the paperwork submitted. However, the timestamp of his negative test matches his filed paperwork. As long as you are sure that the QR codes you sent me for evaluation match the QR codes submitted to the Australian government, I can be sure Djokovic has legitimate questions to answer.”

The German cyber group zerforschung also found that, according to the ID numbers attached to the test results, there are questions about the timing of Djokovic’s claimed positive result on December 16 and his claimed negative result on December 22. The identification number for the negative result is 50,000 numbers lower, suggesting that it was registered before the positive result.

The German cybergroup said a “plausible explanation” for the timestamp difference had emerged, but not for the difference around the confirmation codes.

Referring to web posts by Serbian users of the HackerNews forum, it was theorized that timestamps in the QR code and the linked URL were regenerated when the PDF was downloaded as a result. For example, this could mean that Djokovic or someone on his behalf redownloaded one of his results on December 26.

One of Djokovic's Novak PCR test results shows negative one hour on the government website pcr.euprava.gov.rs and positive the next.

One of Djokovic’s Novak PCR test results shows negative one hour on the government website pcr.euprava.gov.rs and positive the next.Credit:Der Spiegel and Scott Barbour/Tennis Australia

“This explains the inconsistencies in the timestamps – but not in the confirmation codes – as they remain the same,” zerforschung wrote in a detailed blog post update, and on Twitter.

The Federal Circuit Court on Monday, in agreement with both sides, ordered Djokovic’s visa to be reinstated because he was not given enough time to prove he had a valid COVID-19 vaccine waiver when he arrived in Australia last week.

The federal government insists it was appropriate to revoke Djokovic’s visa last week, as a previous COVID-19 infection in the past six months is not a valid reason to get an waiver for being unvaccinated. The court never ruled on that question because the federal government admitted it did not provide Djokovic with procedural justice.

Djokovic spent several nights in immigration detention after he was detained on January 6 and his visa was canceled because he was not vaccinated and did not have a valid exemption. Since then, he has trained in Melbourne Park for the Australian Open, where he has been seeded as the number one.

The Serbian star holds the record for most Australian Open titles in men’s singles with nine wins, bidding on his tenth.

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