Djokovic admits doing photoshoot knowing he was COVID positive

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  • Novak Djokovic
    Novak Djokovic
    Serbian tennis player

Novak Djokovic on Wednesday admitted he undertook an interview and photoshoot in Serbia last month after a receiving a positive COVID test result.

He also conceded information on his Travel Declaration to Australian authorities was incorrect, attributing that to a “human error” by his agent.

Earlier, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić told the BBC it would be “a clear breach of Serbian rules” if Djokovic had been in public after a positive Covid test. “If you’re positive you have to be in isolation,” she said.

As the tennis star fought to resist a second cancellation of his visa, his lawyers submitted more material to Immigration Minister Alex Hawke.

Hawke’s office indicated the decision on Djokovic’s fate was delayed while the minister considered this.

“Mr Djokovic’s lawyers have recently provided lengthy further submissions and supporting documentation said to be relevant to the possible cancellation of Mr Djokovic’s visa. Naturally, this will affect the timeframe for a decision,” Hawke’s spokesman said.

Djokovic took to social media to address what he said was “continuing misinformation” about his activities in the lead up to his positive COVID test result in December.

He said this needed correction, “particularly 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”.

Djokovic said he had attended a basketball game on December 14 in Belgrade. After it was reported people there had tested positive, although he had no symptoms, he took a rapid antigen test (RAT) on December 16, which was negative. “Out of an abundance of caution” he also had a PCR test that day.

The following day he presented awards to children at a tennis event, after taking a RAT before the event, which was negative.

“I was asymptomatic and felt good, and I had not received the notification of a positive PCR result until after that event.”

On December 18 he fulfilled a commitment for a L'Equipe interview and photoshoot, but cancelled other events. He did not want to let down the journalist, he said, adding he wore a mask except when being photographed. He then isolated.

Read more: Novak Djokovic: the legal problem of having one rule for some, another for everyone else

He said that “on reflection” he had made “an error of judgement” – “I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment”.

Djokovic acknowledged the falsity of the information on his travel declaration, which Border Force has been probing. The declaration asks “Have you travelled, or will you travel, in the 14 days prior to your flight to Australia?” His form said he had not, when in fact he had been in Belgrade within the period before leaving Spain, where he lives, for Australia.

In his social media post, he said the declaration was submitted by his support team and “my agent sincerely apologises for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box about my previous travel”.

“This was a human error and certainly not deliberate.” Additional information had been given to the federal government to clarify this matter, he said.

Read more: Novak Djokovic's path to legal vindication was long and convoluted. It may also be fleeting

Before his statement, Djokovic’s mother Dijana Djokovic appeared on Australian morning TV, saying she was very worried his visa would be cancelled again.

“Don’t throw him out, he is tennis player, he is not politician, he is not criminal, he is not murderer, he’s just tennis player, the best in the world, just let him play,” she said on the Seven Network.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said Border Force would “be looking at everything that happened in relation to timings of the interview process” that culminated in the cancellation of the unvaccinatred Djokovic’s visa at the border last week.

That decision was overturned in court on Monday, with the government conceding he had not been accorded procedural fairness in the interview process.

This article is republished from The Conversation is the world's leading publisher of research-based news and analysis. A unique collaboration between academics and journalists. It was written by: Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra.

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Michelle Grattan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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