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Spanish authorities have rejected claims that Novak Djokovic is under investigation over a trip to the country in December.
Djokovic flew from Serbia to Spain last month to use the facilities at the Soho Tennis Academy in Marbella, which uses the same court as the Australian Open.
At the time his participation at the Australian Open was still up in the air, but Djokovic jetted off to Spain in order to get some practice on the same surface used at Melbourne Park.
The Soho Academy tweeted a number of videos of Djokovic practicing there.
— SotoTennis Academy (@SotoTennis) December 31, 2021
Nice to see the human side and values of @DjokerNole after practice yesterday.
His son and friend had walked clay onto the hard courts and he wouldn’t let them leave until the court was fully cleaned.
— SotoTennis Academy (@SotoTennis) January 1, 2022
The trip to Spain has since raised eyebrows with Australian authorities after Djokovic ticked 'no' on a border declaration form to a question about whether he had travelled within the last 14 days.
The 34-year-old was photographed in Serbia and Spain within the 14-day window, however Djokovic on Wednesday claimed his agent mistakenly ticked the wrong box.
However the saga took another explosive twist on Thursday with reports that Spanish authorities are now investigating his entry into the country.
Spanish publication COPE is reporting that agencies are looking into whether he entered the country illegally.
Tennis reporter Gaspar Ribeiro Lanca tweeted: “COPE reports that the Spanish Government is now investigating whether unvaccinated Novak Djokovic entered the country illegally in late December.
“Since September 20, citizens from Serbia need a vaccine certificate OR a special exemption to enter Spanish territory but so far the authorities say they did not receive any request from Djokovic.”
However Spanish authorities have since moved to reject the reports.
“The news is false," a spokesperson for Spain’s interior ministry told Politico.
"Neither the government has ordered it nor is there any police investigation open on the athlete."
American writer Ben Rothenberg added: "'Unvaccinated tourists' are not allowed to enter Spain, so if he doesn't have resident status he'd need to prove travel was 'essential'."
Djokovic is believed to have bought a house in Marbella in 2020, meaning he might be considered a resident under Spanish law.
Since September 20, citizens from Serbia need a vaccine certificate OR a special exemption to enter Spanish territory but so far the authorities say they did not receive any request from Djokovic.
— Gaspar Ribeiro Lança (@gasparlanca) January 12, 2022
Funny you mention that! Looked into it a bit ago.
Firstly, depends on what Djokovic's residency status is in Spain; he owns a house there.
"Unvaccinated tourists" are not allowed to enter Spain, so if he doesn't have resident status he'd need to prove travel was "essential." https://t.co/kJWXpYktuL pic.twitter.com/69mRrU1Ekt
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 12, 2022
Novak Djokovic facing legal issues in three different countries
The fresh twist means Djokovic is now facing legal issues in three different countries.
The World No.1 is also being investigated in Serbia after admitting he attended an interview in December while knowing he was Covid positive.
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on Tuesday that Djokovic would have "clearly violated the rules" had he known of the test result before he participated.
With Australia's Immigration Minster Alex Hawke still weighing up whether or not to use his discretionary powers to deport Djokovic, the World No.1 issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon.
The 34-year-old admitted he conducted an interview with French magazine L'Equipe on the 18th of December after finding out he was positive on the 17th.
"The next day I attended a tennis event in Belgrade to present awards to children and took a rapid antigen test before going to the event, and it was negative. I was asymptomatic and felt good, and I had not received the notification of a positive PCR test result until after that event," he said.
"The next day, on 18 December I was at my tennis centre in Belgrade to fulfil a long-standing commitment for a L’Equipe interview and photoshoot. I cancelled all other events except for the L’Equipe interview.
"I felt obliged to go ahead and conduct the L’Equipe interview as I didn’t want to let the journalist down, but did ensure I socially distanced and wore a mask except when my photograph was being taken."
Djokovic said attending the interview was a mistake and he should have been at home isolating.
"While I went home after the interview to isolate for the required period, upon reflection, this was an error of judgement and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment," he said.
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