'Error of judgement': Novak Djokovic's huge admission in Covid furore
Novak Djokovic has hit out at 'misinformation' surrounding his positive Covid result and the travel documentation he used to gain entry into Australia, but admitted to conducting an interview in December when he knew he was Covid positive.
With 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.
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Djokovic has faced intense scrutiny over his Covid-19 result on December 16, which he used to gain a medical exemption to play the Australian Open.
The 34-year-old was spotted at a number of public events on the 17th and 18th of December while not wearing a mask, with many questioning why he wasn't in isolation.
An honor to receive my very own Serbian stamp. Thank you to my generous country for this rare gift! I’m humbled!! Excited to share we’ll partner with the Serbian National Postal Service on @novakfoundation projects for every child to have the opportunity to attend preschool 🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/Ww8Zma95NU
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) December 17, 2021
On December 17th, the day *after* Djokovic’s purported positive PCR test on December 16th, Djokovic attended an award ceremony for children at the Novak Tennis Center.
Many posts from the kids there posing for pictures with him that day, again masklessly indoors. pic.twitter.com/2ecOSwA7lU
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 8, 2022
Speaking out on Wednesday, Djokovic claimed there was 'misinformation' about his movements.
"I want to address the continuing misinformation about my activities and attendance at events in December in the lead up to my positive PCR Covid test result," he wrote on Instagram.
"This is misinformation which needs to be corrected, particularly in the interest of alleviating broader concerns in the community about my presence in Australia, and to address matters which are very hurtful and concerning to my family.
"I want to emphasise that I have tried very hard to ensure the safety of everyone and my compliance with testing obligations. I attended a basketball game in Belgrade on 14 December after which it was reported that a number of people tested positive with Covid-19.
"Despite having no Covid symptoms, I took a rapid antigen test on 16 December which was negative and out of an abundance of caution, also took an official and approved PCR test on that same day."
Djokovic said he returned a negative rapid antigen test on the 17th before attending an event at his academy in Belgrade.
However he admitted he conducted an interview with French magazine L'Equipe on the 18th after finding out he was positive.
"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.
"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.
L’Equipe says Djokovic posed and screamed during the maskless trophy photoshoot.
L’Equipe also admits the interview came with precondition instructions: no questions about vaccination or his intentions regarding the next Australian Open.
“Very sensitive topic,” L’Equipe said.
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 12, 2022
One more item to add to this timeline:
On December 18th, two days after his purported positive PCR test on December 16th, Djokovic did a photoshoot with L’Equipe. pic.twitter.com/a9CUGw5Fl3
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 9, 2022
Novak Djokovic addresses travel declaration 'mistake'
The 20-time grand slam champion also moved to clarify an issue with his travel declaration after some claimed he 'lied' when filling out the form.
Djokovic answered "no" to a question about whether he had travelled in the 14 days before his arrival in Australia.
However he was filmed playing tennis in the streets of the Serbian capital Belgrade on Christmas Day and training in Spain on December 31 - both within the 14-day window.
"On the issue of my travel declaration, this was submitted by my support team on my behalf - as I told the 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.
"Today, my team has provided additional information to the Australian government to clarify this matter."
Mr Hawke is yet to make a decision on whether Djokovic should be deported after Monday's decision by a federal court to overturn his visa cancellation.
Should such a discretionary decision be made, Djokovic could be banned from entering the country for three years.
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