Novak Djokovic has admitted he did an interview and photoshoot in Belgrade while he knew he had COVID-19 amid a furor in Australia over whether he swerved visa requirements to compete in the Australian Open.
The world No. 1 men’s tennis player has also admitted that mistakes were made on his immigration forms to enter Australia after a judge ruled he was allowed to stay in the country.
Djokovic is unvaccinated and hopes to play in the tournament next week despite Australia’s strict border rules, but Canberra is still deciding whether to deport him.
The saga started when his Australian visa was revoked on the 6th of January shortly after he arrived in the country, as officials questioned his claim to be exempt from COVID-19 restrictions because he recently had the virus.
His detention in a notoriously run-down centre for migrants sparked mass protests by Djokovic supporters and anti-vaxxers.
Djokovic made the admission in a statement posted on Instagram intended to address the “continuing misinformation” about his activities in the lead-up to his positive PCR test.
“I attended a basketball game in Belgrade on 14 December after which it was reported that a number of people tested positive with COVID 19”, Djokovic says. Despite not having symptoms, he took a rapid antigen test, which came back negative, and a PCR test that later came back positive.
“The next day, on 18 December I was at my tennis centre in Belgrade to fulfill a long-standing commitment for a L’Equipe interview and photoshoot.”
He added that he “felt obliged to go ahead and conduct the L’Equipe interview as I didn’t want to let the journalist down,” but he claimed he maintained a social distance and wore a mask, and isolated afterwards.
“On reflection, this was an error of judgement, and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment,” he wrote.
He also said that his agent “sincerely apologises for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box about my previous travel before coming to Australia”. A social media post appeared to show Djokovic in Spain before he arrived in Australia.
This was “a human error and certainly not deliberate,” he said.