The world number one in tennis, whose participation in the Australian Open is still not guaranteed, published a message on Instagram on Wednesday in which he admits having made “mistakes”. He refers in particular to the Australian entry form he completed and his presence at an event in Belgrade after testing positive for Covid.
Novak Djokovic admitted on Wednesday to having made “errors” in completing his Australian entry form and in his behavior after testing positive for Covid-19 in December, while his participation in the Australian Open is still pending. In a message posted on Instagram, the unvaccinated tennis world number one said his team had provided additional information to the Australian authorities, who must decide on the possible cancellation of his visa and his deportation.
Victim of “disinformation”
“We live in difficult times in a global pandemic and sometimes mistakes happen,” pleaded Djokovic, who is currently training to compete in the Australian Open from Monday. Djokovic was seen in public in Belgrade the day after December 16, when he tested positive according to information he provided to Australian immigration. Claiming to be the victim of “misinformation” which he considers “very hurtful” for his family, he explained that he had not yet received the result of his test, carried out the day before, when he appeared in public on 17 December.
The 34-year-old arrived in Australia last week, with an exemption from vaccination against Covid-19 due to a positive test dated December 16. After a negative antigen test carried out on December 16 in parallel with the PCR test, he participated, on the 17th, in the launch of a stamp in Serbia and in a meeting with young tennis players. Photos released by the Belgrade Tennis Federation showed Djokovic with federation officials and about 20 teenagers, all without masks. The player claims to have carried out a second antigen test, also negative, before this meeting.
An “error in judgement”
“I had no symptoms and felt fine, and had not received notification of the positive PCR test until the end of this event,” he explains. Djokovic recognizes on the other hand an “error of judgment”, that of having received, then asymptomatic patient, journalists of the French daily newspaper L’Equipe for an interview.
“I felt compelled to go on and do the L’Equipe interview because I didn’t want to let the journalist down, but I made sure to respect social distancing and wear a mask, except when my portrait was done. “, he explained. “On reflection, it was an error in judgment and I recognize that I should have postponed this engagement”.
“Djoker” also pleads “human error” for having ticked the wrong box in the form to enter Australia. The latter was widely publicized by the Australian media, and shows the player ticking the box confirming that he has not traveled in the 14 days prior to his arrival in Australia on January 5. However, the player was, in these two weeks, in Serbia and then in Spain.
This statement “was submitted by my team on my behalf,” Djokovic wrote on Instagram. “My agent sincerely apologizes for this administrative error in ticking the wrong box regarding my travels prior to my arrival in Australia.” “It was human error and certainly not deliberate.”
The player goes back to the chronology of the case and explains that he took a PCR test on December 16 because he had attended a basketball match in Belgrade the day before, where several people then tested positive. The participation of the world No.1 in the Australian Open, which begins on January 17, remains pending. A spokesman for Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said on Tuesday he was “considering canceling Mr Djokovic’s visa” using his ministerial powers.