In the lead-up to the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year, the troubled Novak Djokovic has slammed “continuing misinformation” over his COVID-19 status although the world No. 1 admitted to making an “error in judgement” by breaking isolation regulations during a recent interview.
The nine-time Australian Open champion also said that an administrative blunder on the part of his support staff resulted in an incorrect certification that he had not travelled for two weeks prior to his journey to Australia.
Djokovic was held for four days at the Australian border when it was determined that his medical exemption from the coronavirus vaccination required for entry was insufficient.
However, a judge’s favourable decision on his appeal ensured that he was released on Monday, as THEWILL reported.
The judge’s judgement did not put an end to the dispute, as questions remain about the chronology of his positive test and his subsequent actions, causing the 34-year-old to go to Instagram.
On December 16, Djokovic claimed to have tested positive for COVID-19. On the two days following that date, however, images showed him away from home at events and without a mask. He verified his moves but stated that he wished to clear any misunderstandings, adding that he had “tried very hard to ensure everyone’s safety.”
“I want to emphasise that I have tried very hard to ensure the safety of everyone and my compliance with testing obligations,” he said. “I attended a basketball game in Belgrade on December 14 after which it was reported that a number of people tested positive with COVID-19.”
Djokovic attended a tennis function on December 17, when he presented awards to young children, followed by an interview with L’Equipe on December 18. On the 16th, the Serb took a fast antigen test, which came back negative, as well as a PCR test, according to the statement.
Djokovic stated he conducted another quick antigen test on December 17 and got a negative result, but the PCR result did not come until after the tennis tournament.
He claimed he kept a long-term promise for an interview with L’Equipe because he did not want to disappoint the writer.
“Despite having no Covid symptoms, I took a rapid antigen test on December 16 which was negative, and out of an abundance of caution, also took an official and approved PCR test on that same day,” continued Djokovic.
“I was asymptomatic and felt good, and I had not received the notification of a positive PCR test until after that event.”
“The next day, on December 18, 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. I socially distanced and wore a mask except when my photograph was being taken.
“While I went home after the interview to isolate myself for the required period, on reflection, this was an error of judgement and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment.”
Djokovic also addressed an inaccuracy on his pre-travel declaration paperwork, blaming it on a support team administrative error. According to documents disclosed as part of Djokovic’s appeal against a visa cancellation, the world number one answered “No” when asked if he had travelled in the two weeks leading up to his arrival in Australia.
Djokovic arrived in Australia on January 4 after a flight from Spain, yet social media photos dated December 25 showed him in Serbia.
“On the issues of my travel declaration, this was submitted by my support team on my behalf – as I told immigration officials on my arrival – and 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.” added the World No. 1.
“Today, my team has provided additional information to the Australian government to clarify this matter.”
Djokovic concluded by adding that he “felt it was important to address and clarify misinformation,” but that he would not say anything else out of respect for the Australian government and authorities.