Djokovic admits he did not immediately self-isolate after positive Covid test, as Australia probes possible test discrepancies

In a statement posted to social media, he also apologized for a seemingly false travel claim, saying it was submitted on his behalf by a member of his support staff through “human error.”

However, Australian Border Force (ABF) officials are investigating possible inconsistencies in documents related to Djokovic’s PCR result in December as well as the tennis player’s movements in the days following his positive test for Covid-19 in Serbia, said a source familiar with the investigation. CNN Wednesday.

The Australian Border Force (ABF) has not yet determined whether these issues may impact the validity of Djokovic’s current Australian visa, the source said.

On Tuesday, the German newspaper Der Spiegel reported possible discrepancies in the numerical data associated with Djokovic’s PCR tests. The PCR test documents were filed in court by Djokovic’s lawyers and posted online.

Positive and negative results for the same PCR test emerged when Der Spiegel retroactively viewed the results using an attached QR code, the outlet reported.

A CNN contributor and various internet users also reported seeing the same issue. There was no indication of what could have caused a deviation.

Tests carried out by CNN on Wednesday only showed a positive result, consistent with documents filed in court.

“I want to remedy the persistent disinformation”

Djokovic has been embroiled in controversy since his arrest in Australia last week over a visa and vaccination dispute.

He arrived in Melbourne last week and quickly saw his visa canceled to enter the country without a valid exemption for the country’s vaccination requirement for all arrivals – but won the legal battle on Monday, with a judge ruling that ‘he should be allowed to stay.
But questions persisted about Djokovic’s behavior – in particular, his positive Covid diagnosis last month before he arrived in Melbourne, and the public events he attended at the time.

“I want to talk about the continued disinformation about my activities and my participation in events in December in the run-up to my positive Covid PCR test result,” he said in the statement.

“This is misinformation that needs to be corrected, especially in the interest of alleviating wider community concerns about my presence in Australia, and addressing issues of great hurt and concern to my family.

“I want to stress that I have gone to great lengths to ensure everyone’s safety and my compliance with testing obligations.”

Djokovic said he attended a basketball game in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, on December 14, where many people subsequently tested positive. He showed no symptoms, but was tested on December 16.

On December 17, before receiving his official test result, he took a rapid test that came back negative and attended a youth tennis awards ceremony – after which he received the official positive result. , according to the press release.

The next day, December 18, he gave a media interview and photoshoot with French sports newspaper L’Equipe, saying he decided to go ahead because “I didn’t want to let go of the journalist”. He distanced himself socially and wore a mask except for the photoshoot, he added.

“While I returned home after the interview to isolate myself for the required period, after reflection, it was an error in judgment and I accept that I should have postponed this engagement”, a- he declared.

Novak Djokovic trains at Rod Laver Arena ahead of the 2022 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 11, 2022.

Interview with L’Equipe

A journalist and photographer working for L’Equipe was not informed that Djokovic tested positive for Covid before, during or after the interview with the tennis star in Belgrade, the French sports newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Journalist Franck Ramella and photographer Etienne Garnier reported that Djokovic looked “fine,” their article read, although it later emerged that he had been diagnosed with Covid-19 on December 16.

The L’Equipe article says Ramella has since tested negative for Covid-19 – it does not mention Garnier’s health.

Ramella told CNN he is on his way to Melbourne to cover the Australian Open.

“For 33 minutes, according to the recorder’s timer, Djokovic answered questions with confidence,” a CNN translation of the French article read.

“We were safe, face to face at a distance of almost a meter, seated on either side of a long rectangular table. When Etienne asked him to take off his mask for five minutes during the interview, Djokovic refused.

“Then the photoshoot took place. Obviously, the Serbian champion took off his mask. We didn’t want him to pose with his face half covered.

“Then he followed the instructions of Etienne, who was masked. He held the trophy at arm’s length, moving from one position to the other, smiling or smiling to show that he had won. shouted to make it even more authentic. “

The article was published just hours before Djokovic apologized for sticking to the interview appointment despite being aware of his positive PCR diagnosis in a test carried out two more days. early.

Following the news of his positive result, Djokovic received a lot of criticism for photographs showing him at these various events – often unmasked and around children.

His statement on Wednesday that he only knew his positive Covid status on December 17 also contradicts the words of his brother, who said at a press conference on Tuesday that the player had tested positive on December 16 and knew his result.

In an interview with Australian and CNN-affiliated broadcaster Seven Network on Wednesday, Djokovic’s mother said he “probably” didn’t know he tested positive before attending the events.

Even the Serbian authorities, who staunchly defended Djokovic and denounced his temporary detention throughout the ordeal, acknowledged the controversy.

“It would be a flagrant violation of the rules because if you know you are positive you will have to be isolated,” Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić told the BBCg, but added “there is a gray area” because there is no was not clear when Djokovic received his results.

Travel declaration

Djokovic also addressed the controversy over a seemingly bogus travel claim.

Although he said he had not traveled in the 14 days before he arrived in Australia, photos taken during that time appear to show him in both Spain and Serbia.

In the statement, he apologized for the false statement, saying it was submitted “by my support team on my behalf”, calling it “human error and certainly not willful”. He declined to comment further, adding only that he hoped to play at the Australian Open and “face the best players in the world”.

The penalty for submitting a false travel declaration carries a maximum sentence of 12 months in prison, according to the Australian Home Office website.

Novak Djokovic is
Although the judge has allowed Djokovic to walk freely and start training for the tournament, which begins next week, the tennis star could still face expulsion, with ABF also investigating the gap. travel declaration and the Immigration Minister is still considering deporting him from the country. .

“As publicly reported, Minister Hawke is considering canceling Mr Djokovic’s visa under section 133C (3) of the Migration Act,” a spokesperson for Immigration Minister Alex said on Wednesday. Hawke.

“Mr. Djokovic’s lawyers recently provided lengthy additional submissions and supporting documents that would be relevant to the possible cancellation of Mr. Djokovic’s visa. Naturally, this will affect the decision timeframe.”

Although the judge overturned the cancellation of Djokovic’s visa, Hawke could still exercise his personal power to revoke it, which could lead to another legal deadlock.

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