Novak Djokovic Admits He Didn’t Isolate After Positive COVID Test

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic knew he’d tested positive for COVID-19 when he attended a newspaper interview and photoshoot in Serbia last month, saying Wednesday he made an “error of judgment” and should have immediately gone into isolation.

In a statement posted to his social media accounts, the tennis star also blamed “human error” by his support team for failing to declare that he had traveled in the two-week period before entering Australia.

Upon arrival, his visa was revoked and then later reinstated in an ongoing saga over whether he should be allowed into the country despite not being vaccinated against COVID-19. The back and forth has provoked outrage in Australia and overshadowed the lead-up to the Australian Open.

Djokovic acknowledged the lapses when he sought to clarify what he called “continuing misinformation” about his movements after he became infected last month — though he did not say spell out what inaccuracies he was referring to.

The statement was posted while the men’s tennis No. 1 was in Rod Laver Arena holding a practice session, his third on the tournament’s main court since being released from four nights in immigration detention.

The nine-time and defending Australian Open champion remains in limbo before the year’s first tennis major starts next Monday. The stakes are particularly high since he is seeking a men’s record 21st Grand Slam singles title.

Novak Djokovic knew he’d tested positive for COVID-19 when he attended a newspaper interview and photoshoot in Serbia last month.

Darrian Traynor via Getty Images

He won a legal battle on procedural grounds Monday that allowed him to stay in the country, but he still faces the prospect of deportation because his exemption from COVID-19 vaccination rules has been questioned. That decision is entirely at the discretion of Australia’s immigration minister if deemed to be in the public interest for health and safety reasons.

Deportation could result in sanctions ranging up to a three-year ban from entering Australia, a daunting prospect for a player who has won almost half of his 20 Grand Slam singles titles here.

Court documents detailing Djokovic’s positive test sparked speculation over the star player’s attendance at events in his native Serbia last month. Further questions also were raised about errors on his immigration form that could potentially result in the cancellation of his visa.

On the form, Djokovic said he had not traveled in the 14 days before his flight to Australia, despite being seen in Spain and Serbia in that period.

In his statement, Djokovic described recent commentary as “hurtful” and said he wanted to address it in the interest of “alleviating broader concern in the community about my presence in Australia.”

The 34-year-old Serb said he’d taken rapid tests that were negative and he was asymptomatic before he received his positive result from a PCR test he undertook out of an “abundance of caution” after attending a basketball game in Belgrade on Dec. 14. He received the result late Dec. 17, he said, and scrapped all his commitments except a long-standing interview with L’Equipe newspaper.



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