Topline

Tennis star Novak Djokovic on Wednesday admitted that he knew about his Covid-19 positive test before taking part in a newspaper interview and photoshoot in Serbia last month as fresh questions were raised about the veracity of unvaccinated tennis star’s PCR test results which he submitted to Australian border officials.

Key Facts

In a statement issued on Instagram, the world’s top-ranked men’s tennis player apologized for making an “error of judgement” for failing to immediately isolate after his positive test and going forward with the interview.

Djokovic said that he received his positive test result on the night of December 17—a day after he tested positive—but he “felt obliged” to go ahead and conduct an interview with French publication L’Equipe the next day as he “didn’t want to let the journalist down.”

The tennis star said he ensured was socially distanced during the interview and wore a mask the whole time except when his photographs were being taken.

Djokovic also noted that the error made on his travel declaration form was the result of human error and his agency “sincerely apologizes” for ticking the wrong box and his team has provided additional information to the Australian government to clarify this matter.

The 20-time grand slam winner said his statement intends to clarify misinformation and he will not be making any further statements on the matter out of “utmost respect for the Australian Government…and their current process.”

Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke—who is yet to make a decision on using his special powers to cancel Djokovic’s visa—received “lengthy further submissions” from Djokovic’s lawyers about his case which could delay his decision further.

Tangent

Despite his clarifications, fresh questions were raised about the veracity of Djokovic’s PCR test results after German news publisher Der Spiegel reported some inconsistencies. The PCR test document submitted to Australian authorities showed that the tennis star’s nasal swab sample was collected at 1:05 p.m. local time on December 16 and the positive result was generated seven hours later. However, the QR code on the document directs to a link from the Institute of Public Health of Serbia which shows it was time-stamped on December 26. This discrepancy is not present in the document showing Djokovic’s negative test result, which is time-stamped for December 22. Der Spiegel also reported that when it first scanned the QR code for Djokovic’s test from December 16, the result showed up as a “negative.” However, a second scan of the QR code taken an hour later by the publication displayed “Test result Positive.” A scan of the QR code carried out by Forbes, displayed the test result as positive. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian government is aware of the reported inconsistencies, but it is unclear if that will form a part of the immigration minister’s consideration on whether to cancel the tennis star’s visa.

Key Background

An Australian Federal Court ruled Monday in favor of Djokovic and ordered government officials to reinstate hiss visa. The judge ruled that the cancelation of the tennis star’s visa was “unreasonable” as he was denied adequate time to consult others on the questions raised by border authorities. Australia requires all foreign visitors to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19—with limited medical exemptions allowed in some cases. The Australian Border Force alleged that Djokovic—who is unvaccinated according to court documents—failed to provide adequate evidence to qualify for a medical exemption.

Further Reading

Were the Results of a Positive PCR Test Manipulated? (Der Spiegel)

Djokovic’s Travel Claims Reportedly Under Investigation As Australia Considers Second Visa Cancelation (Forbes)

Djokovic clarifies movements, Australian visa saga continues (Associated Press)

Djokovic Admits False Statement on Australia Travel Document (New York Times)

Full coverage and live updates on the Coronavirus

Source: Forbes

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