Djokovic’s travel history before the trip to Australia analyzed
Novak Djokovic was in Serbia in the two weeks before flying to the Australian Open from Spain, according to three Belgrade residents – claims that contradict information contained in their immigration declaration on arrival in Melbourne.
Accounts from two eyewitnesses and another individual, obtained by Reuters on Tuesday and not previously reported, corroborated earlier social media posts that appear to show Djokovic in Belgrade less than two weeks before his departure for Spain and then to Australia. These accounts of his travel story are in contradiction with a declaration presented within the framework of the immigration formalities for Djokovic’s entry into Australia who declared he had not traveled in the 14 days before leaving for Australia.
Giving false or misleading information on the form constitutes an offense, punishable by up to 12 months in prison and a fine of up to A $ 6,600 (US $ 4,730) and can lead to cancellation of the offender’s visa.
Two representatives of Djokovic, and his Australian lawyers, did not respond to emailed requests for comment on its movements in the 14 days leading up to January 5, and on the information provided in the immigration form. Djokovic’s father, Srdjan Djokovic, responding to questions from Reuters, sent a statement which read: “If something had not been cleared up as some reporters claim, the verdict would have been different.”
Three separate social media posts claimed to show Djokovic photos and video of Djokovic in Belgrade and were posted on December 25. It was not possible to independently verify when and where the images were recorded. However, two eyewitnesses who spoke to Reuters said they saw the athlete in Belgrade on or after December 24, that is, in the 14-day window before he arrived in Australia, via Spain. Both witnesses said they could not recall the exact dates they saw the tennis player. A third person confirmed that a video of Djokovic posted on social media was recorded on December 25 in Belgrade.
Djokovic told Australian authorities that when he arrived in Australia on Jan.5, he had traveled there from Spain, according to documents his lawyers submitted to the court and viewed by Reuters. In order not to have traveled in the 14 days before his flight to Australia, Djokovic had to be in Spain from December 23 at the latest.
Part of the evidence putting Djokovic in Serbia within the 14-day window before he left for Australia focuses around a video of an impromptu tennis match showing Djokovic playing with an unidentified individual on December 25 in a Belgrade street. The video posted on Belgrade property manager Igor Rogan’s Instagram account showed a person matching Djokovic’s description, wearing jeans and a raincoat, playing tennis on a street. Reuters identified the location as West 65, an upscale apartment complex in the Novi Beograd district of Belgrade. A branch of the Rogan Real Estate Company can be seen in the background. The video was posted on December 25, with a caption saying it was recorded the same day. When the company was contacted by Reuters, an employee of the company where Rogan works said that the West 65 branch was opened on December 25 and that Rogan recorded the video in Belgrade on the same day.
The two eyewitnesses who spoke to Reuters, and who declined to be named, said they saw Djokovic near the same apartment complex. The accounts the three people provided to Reuters corroborate earlier social media posts. A photo posted to Twitter, also on December 25, by a user called Danilo Skerovic showed Djokovic posing with a fan in front of the same building. The tennis player wore the same outfit as in the video posted by Rogan, with a tennis racquet in one hand and a tennis ball in the other. Skerovic did not respond to messages seeking comment.
Another photo of Djokovic was posted the same day on the Instagram account of Petar Djordjic, an athlete who plays handball for the Serbian national team and Portuguese club SL Benfica. The photo showed Djokovic, in the same outfit and in the same setting, posing alongside Djordjic. Djordjic did not respond to messages sent to his cell phone number on Tuesday.
Public opinion in Australia, which is battling a wave of Omicron infections and where more than 90% of the adult population is doubly vaccinated, was largely against the player. Serbian supporters of the tennis player claimed he had become a scapegoat by Australian authorities.