Novak Djokovic blamed his agent for an “administrative error” in stating that he had not traveled in the two weeks before his flight to Australia and admitted an “error in judgment” in not isolating himself after having tested positive for Covid.
The world number 1 released a statement on Wednesday in an attempt to respond to what he called “continued disinformation” about his activities in December before coming to Australia in a bid to retain his Australian Open crown .
But Djokovic’s statement, posted on Instagram, did not address reports from Der Spiegel claiming apparent anomalies with his PCR test result from December 16. The report raised questions about the positive diagnosis of Covid which forms the basis for his exemption from traveling to Australia.
Wednesday’s statement claims he was not made aware of his positive result until December 17 despite Djokovic’s affidavit to the federal circuit court that he was both “tested and diagnosed” on December 16. .
Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has confirmed he is still considering revoking Djokovic’s visa, citing “lengthy additional submissions and supporting documents” from the player’s lawyers as the cause for the delay.
Djokovic had his visa reinstated by the federal circuit court on Monday, but his ability to stay in Australia has been questioned by the ministerial review.
On Tuesday, it was revealed that Australian border forces were investigating his pre-flight statement after images emerged suggesting he was in Belgrade less than two weeks before his flight from Spain to Australia on January 4.
On Wednesday Djokovic said he wanted to correct “the misinformation … in the interest of alleviating broader community concerns about my presence in Australia.”
“I want to stress that I have made great efforts to ensure everyone’s safety 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 had tested positive for Covid-19.
“Despite having no symptoms of Covid, I did a rapid antigen test on December 16 which was negative, and as a precaution I also had an official and approved PCR test on the same day.”
Djokovic said on December 17 that he attended a tennis event in Belgrade to present prizes to children, after testing negative again in a rapid test. “I was asymptomatic and feeling well, and only received notification of a positive PCR result after this event.”
Djokovic said that after receiving the positive result, he nevertheless went to his tennis center in Belgrade on December 18 to fulfill a “long-standing commitment for an L’Equipe interview” because he “felt obliged “and” did not want to let down the reporter “. . Djokovic says he distanced himself socially and wore a mask except while taking photos.
“As I returned home after the interview to self-isolate for the required period, upon reflection it was an error in judgment and I accept that I should have postponed this engagement.”
Djokovic said the incorrect pre-travel declaration of January 1 was “submitted by my support team on my behalf.”
“My agent sincerely apologizes for the administrative error by checking the wrong box regarding my previous trip before coming to Australia. It was a human error and certainly not deliberate.
Djokovic said he had “provided additional information to the Australian government to clarify this matter” but would not make any further comments “out of respect for the Australian government and its authorities and the ongoing process”.
Djokovic did not address the Der Spiegel report which claimed the QR code from his December 16 PCR test showed a negative result when they scanned it earlier this week before subsequently giving a positive result.
He also claimed to have discovered anomalies between the paper version of the result of the PCR test which turned out positive and the digital version of it as presented by the tennis player’s lawyers.
The paper version would suggest that the presumed positive test result is not December 16 but – depending on the time stamped there – December 26. Spiegel recognized that the timestamp could also reflect when the result was uploaded by the test person.
According to the findings of the computer research group Zerforschung, and shared with Spiegel, the positive test on December 16 had the Serbian test system number 7371999. The result of Djokovic’s negative test, carried out on December 22, is said to have an identification number. approximately 50,000 positions. inferior.
Zerforschung researchers told Spiegel they had confirmation that test ID numbers were increasing rather than decreasing, raising questions that the allegedly December 22 test was carried out before the allegedly December 16 test.
Spiegel asked questions of Djokovic and the Serbian health authorities, but as of Tuesday evening he still had not received a response. The Guardian has also reached out to Djokovic for comment.
A spokesperson for Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said he was still considering using his personal power to cancel Djokovic’s visa.
“Mr. Djokovic’s lawyers recently provided lengthy additional observations and supporting documents deemed relevant to the possible cancellation of Mr. Djokovic’s visa,” he said on Wednesday. “Of course, this will affect the timing of a decision.”
Around the same time that Djokovic’s statement was released, the world No.1 continued his preparations for the tournament by hosting his first open training session at Rod Laver Arena with Tristan Schoolkate, a young player from Australia.
Djokovic’s first two training sessions since his release from detention had been conducted in private, with the doors to the Rod Laver Arena locked and the court’s live broadcast disabled on Tuesday.
Additional reports Tumaini Carayol