Novak Djokovic admits breaking isolation while Covid positive
Tennis star Novak Djokovic has admitted there were mistakes on his immigration forms and to meeting a journalist despite testing positive for Covid, as Australia mulls deporting him.
Djokovic made the admissions in an Instagram post to clarify “ongoing misinformation” about his movements.
The men’s tennis number one is hoping to play in the Australian Open next week.
But his participation has been overshadowed by a row over his visa.
Djokovic, who is unvaccinated, had his visa revoked on 6 January shortly after arriving in Australia amid questions over the vaccine exemption that would have permitted him to enter.
On Monday, however, a judge dramatically overturned the decision and ordered the release of the player from detention.
But the government has not ruled out further action – and the possibility remains that the country’s immigration minister could cancel his visa for a second time just days before the tournament begins.
If Djokovic wins the Australian Open – his 21st grand slam – he would become the most successful male tennis player in history.
In his Instagram post, Djokovic said he went ahead with the interview, with French title L’Equipe, because he “didn’t want to let the journalist down”.
“[I ensured] I socially distanced and wore a mask except when my photograph was being taken,” he said.
L’Equipe confirmed in an article that the tennis star wore a mask the entire time, even when their reporter asked him to take it off for five minutes.
The journalist, Franck Ramella, said that he had been told not to ask Djokovic about his vaccination status or the upcoming Australian Open so “therefore did not ask if he had considered doing a test”.
“Even if we did ask, what would be the point?” Mr Ramella wrote.
Djokovic also admitted making a false declaration on his travel form prior to entering Australia.
He said his agent had made a mistake when filling in a section of the form that covered his recent travel history. The form stated that he had not travelled in the 14 days before his arrival in Australia.
But recent reports suggest the 34-year-old had travelled to Serbia and then to Spain prior to the trip.
“My agent sincerely apologises for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box,” he wrote. “This was a human error and certainly not deliberate.”
“My team has provided additional information to the Australian government to clarify this matter,” he added.
Australia’s Border Force, the nation’s immigration officials, said on Tuesday they were investigating whether he had made a “false declaration” – which would be grounds for a visa cancellation.
The men’s professional tennis tour has called for more clarity of the rules to enter Australia and urged players to get vaccinated.
It feels like every time something is revealed about the Djokovic saga the story becomes less clear. I was watching Novak Djokovic train this morning. And only a few minutes after we left the court everyone’s phone lit up.
In his statement Djokovic addressed two points.
The first is about his Covid19 infection. While admitting he broke isolation rules does not affect his deportation prospects it certainly doesn’t look good.
For Australians who’ve had to deal with some of the world’s strictest Covid19 rules, this is a world-famous athlete who has publicly said he’s against getting vaccinated and has now revealed that he violated isolation rules while he was infected.
The other central admission is of providing the wrong information in his travel declaration document.
Djokovic called it a human error, but will the border force officials accept that? We know they’re looking at other information provided by Novak’s team now.
The Australian Open starts in a few days and there’s still no guarantee he’ll be able to defend his title.