Sports

Djokovic admits he didn’t immediately isolate after positive Covid test, as Australia probes possible discrepancies in tests

In a statement posted on social media, he also apologized for an apparently false travel permit, saying it had been submitted on his behalf by one of his support staff in “human error”.

Djokovic added that he made an “error of judgment” in giving a media interview and taking a photo with a French sports newspaper after he tested positive.

The French sports newspaper reported Wednesday that the journalist and photographer working for the newspaper L’Equipe was not told that Djokovic had contracted the Covid virus before, during or after the interview with the tennis star in Belgrade.

Meanwhile, Australian Border Force (ABF) officials are investigating possible discrepancies in documents relating to Djokovic’s PCR result in December as well as the tennis player’s movements in the days after he tested positive for Covid-19 in Serbia, a source familiar with the investigation told CNN. . Wednesday.

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

On Tuesday, German news agency Der Spiegel reported possible discrepancies in numerical data linked to Djokovic’s PCR tests. Documents for the PCR test were filed in court by Djokovic’s lawyer and posted online.

Positive and negative results for the same PCR test came out when Der Spiegel was retroactively able to access the results with an attached QR code, the outlet reported.

A CNN contributor and various netizens also reported seeing the same issue. There was no indication of the cause of the discrepancy.

Tests conducted by CNN on Wednesday only showed a positive result, consistent with documents submitted to the court.

“I want to tackle persistent misinformation”

Djokovic has been embroiled in controversy since he was detained in Australia last week over a visa and vaccination dispute.

He arrived in Melbourne last week and quickly had his visa revoked without a valid exemption to the country’s vaccination requirements for all arrivals – but won the legal battle on Monday, as a judge ruled he should be allowed to stay.
But questions remained about Djokovic’s behavior – specifically, his positive Covid diagnosis last month before he arrived in Melbourne, and the public events he attended at the time.

“I want to address persistent misinformation about my activities and attendance at events in December in the lead up to a positive PCR Covid test result,” he said in the statement.

“This is misinformation that needs to be corrected, in particular in order to alleviate the broader concern in the community about my presence in Australia, and to address matters which are deeply harmful and of concern to my family.

“I want to stress that I have tried very hard to ensure everyone’s safety and my compliance with my testing obligations.”

Djokovic said he attended a basketball match in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, on December 14, when several people subsequently tested positive. He had no symptoms, but was tested on December 16.

On December 17, prior to receiving the official test result, he took a rapid test that came back negative, and attended the Youth Tennis Awards — after which he obtained the official positive result, according to the statement.

The next day, December 18, he gave a media interview and filmed with the French sports newspaper L’Equipe, saying he had gone ahead because “I didn’t want to let the journalist down”. He added that he socially distanced himself and wore a mask except for the photo session.

“As I went home after the interview to isolate for the required duration, on reflection, this was a miscalculation and I agree that I should have rescheduled this commitment,” he said.

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

Team interview

According to L’Equipe’s story on Wednesday, journalist Frank Ramella and photographer Etienne Garnier reported that Djokovic looked “well,” despite his later reappearance, the tennis star was diagnosed with Covid-19 on December 16.

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

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

“For 33 minutes, according to the timer on the recording device, Djokovic answered questions with confidence,” reads a CNN translation in French.

“We were safe, faced each other at a distance of about one meter, and were seated on either side of a long rectangular table. When Etienne asked him to remove his mask for five minutes during the interview, Djokovic refused.

“Then the photo session took place. The Serbian hero obviously took off his mask. We didn’t want him to stand half-covered.

“Then he followed the instructions of Etienne, who was masked. He held the cup at arm’s length, and moved from one position to the next, smiling or grinning to show his victory. He also shouted to make it more real.”

The article was published just hours before Djokovic apologized for keeping his interview appointment despite learning of his positive PCR diagnosis from a test taken two days earlier.

Simon Cumbers, co-chair of the International Tennis Writers Association (ITWA), said it was “extremely concerning” that Djokovic had not told a member of the organization – and the rest of the L’Equipe team that day – that he had tested positive for Covid-19.

“As journalists, we take great care to adhere to all applicable Covid-19 rules and expect all players to do the same,” ITWA’s statement added.

“Furthermore, it should be noted that journalists must be fully vaccinated to travel to Melbourne for this year’s Australian Open.”

After news of his positive result surfaced, Djokovic received widespread criticism for photos showing him at these various events – often unmasked and around children.

His statement on Wednesday that he did not know his positive Covid case until December 17 also contradicted comments from his brother, who said at a press conference on Tuesday that the player had tested positive on December 16 and knew his result.

Djokovic’s mother, in an interview with Australian Broadcasting Corporation and CNN affiliate CNN on Wednesday, said he “probably” did not know he had tested positive before attending the events.

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

“It would be a clear breach of the rules because if you knew you were sure you would be in isolation,” Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic told the BBC, but added “there are some gray areas” where it was not clear when Djokovic had received his results.

travel permit

Djokovic also touched on the controversy over an apparently false travel permit.

Although he said he had not traveled in the 14 days before arriving 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 made “by my support team on my behalf”, describing it as “a human error and certainly not intentional.” He declined to make any further comment, saying only that he hopes to play in the Australian Open and “compete against the best players in the world”.

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

Novak Djokovic is the best player in the history of men's tennis.  But he will leave & # 39;  complex & # 39;  Legacy off the field
Although the judge allowed Djokovic to walk freely and start training for the tournament, which begins next week, the tennis star could still face deportation, with ABF also investigating the discrepancy in the travel statement and the immigration minister still considering whether to take him out of the country.

“As noted publicly, Secretary Hook is considering whether to revoke Mr. Djokovic’s visa under Section 133c(3) of the Immigration Act,” Immigration Minister spokesman Alex Hook said on Wednesday.

“Mr. Djokovic’s lawyers have recently submitted further applications and supporting documents that were said to be related to a possible revocation of Mr. Djokovic’s visa. Naturally, this will affect the time frame for the decision.”

Although the judge has overturned Djokovic’s visa revocation, Hook can still exercise his personal power to revoke it – which could lead to another legal showdown.

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