Novak Djokovic has hit out at "continuing misinformation" surrounding his Covid status ahead of the Australian Open.
However, the world No. 1 has admitted to making an "error in judgement" by breaking isolation rules when conducting an interview with French publication L’Equipe.
The nine-time Australian Open winner also added that an administrative error by his support team led to an incorrect declaration that he had not travelled for two weeks before his flight to Australia.
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Djokovic was detained at the Australian border and held for four days after it was decided that his medical exemption from the coronavirus vaccination to enter the country was not sufficient. He was released on Monday after a judge’s ruling.
However, confusion has reigned on the timeline of his positive test and his behaviours thereafter, prompting the 34-year-old to speak out on Instagram.
Djokovic claimed to have tested positive for Covid on December 16. However, photos showed him away from home at events and without a mask on each of the two days following that date. He confirmed his movements but said that he wanted to correct misinformation, adding that he had “tried very hard to ensure the safety of everyone”.
“I want to emphasise that I have tried very hard to ensure the safety of everyone 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 tested positive with Covid-19."
On December 17, Djokovic attended a tennis event, where he presented awards to some children and then – on December 18 - an interview with L’Equipe. The Serb added in the statement that he took a rapid antigen test on the 16th – which returned a negative result – and also took a PCR test. Djokovic said that he took another rapid antigen test on December 17 – also returning a negative result – and did not receive the PCR result until after the tennis event.
He said he conducted a long-standing commitment for an interview with L’Equipe, saying that he did not want to let the journalist down.
“Despite having no Covid symptoms, I took a rapid antigen test on December 16 which was negative, and out of an abundance of caution, also took an official and approved PCR test on that same day,” continued Djokovic. “I was asymptomatic and felt good, and I had not received the notification of a positive PCR test until after that event.”
“The next day, on December 18, I was at my tennis centre in Belgrade to fulfil a long-standing commitment for a L’Equipe interview and photoshoot. I cancelled all other events except for the L’Equipe interview.
"I felt obliged to go ahead and conduct the L'Equipe interview as I didn't want to let the journalist down. I socially distanced and wore a mask except when my photograph was being taken.
While I went home after the interview to isolate for the required period, on reflection, this was an error of judgment and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment.
Djokovic also addressed an error on his pre-travel declaration form, citing an administration error from his support team. Documents released as part of Djokovic’s appeal against a visa cancellation shows that the World No. 1 answered ‘No’ to the question about whether he had travelled in the two weeks prior to coming to Australia.
Djokovic flew to Australia from Spain on January 4 but social media posts showed him in his native Serbia on December 25.
“On the issues of my travel declaration, this was submitted by my support team on my behalf – as I told immigration officials on my arrival – and my agent sincerely apologises for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box about my previous travel before coming to Australia. This was a human error and certainly not deliberate. We are living in challenging times in a global pandemic and sometimes these mistakes can occur.” added the World No. 1.
Today, my team has provided additional information to the Australian government to clarify this matter.
Djokovic finished by saying that he “felt it was important to address and clarify misinformation” but would not be making any further comment out of respect for the Australian government and their authorities.
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