World number one Novak Djokovic is facing a wave of backlash for “completely irresponsible” behavior ahead of the Australian Open.
Novak Djokovic faces a tsunami of backlash after the Serbian tennis star admitted to conducting an in-person interview knowing he had tested positive for Covid-19.
The world number 1 shared a lengthy statement to his 9.9 million Instagram followers on Wednesday afternoon, revealing that his agent “ticked the wrong box” on his travel statement before entering Australia.
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The unvaccinated tennis player, who is currently in Melbourne for the Australian Open, said he was keen to address issues of “misinformation” which had caused concern among Australians and had been “very hurtful” to his. family.
It comes after Australian Border Force officials investigated whether the 20-time Grand Slam champion lied on his registration form to enter the country.
On his travel declaration form – which was part of court documents released on Monday – the Serbian ticked a box indicating that he had not traveled and did not intend to travel in the 14 days prior to his flight down.
However, Djokovic has faced allegations that he traveled from Serbia to Spain within 14 days before flying to Australia last week.
The Home Office warns on its website that giving false or misleading information to the government is “a serious offense” punishable by jail time.
Djokovic has now confessed to “human error”, saying it was “certainly not deliberate”. He blamed “hard times in a global pandemic” for the mistake.
The 34-year-old said his agent “sincerely apologizes” for the blunder.
Djokovic also admitted to participating in an interview with a French newspaper. The team after knowing he had tested positive for Covid-19 earlier in the week, a decision he called an “error in judgment”.
According to The team, Djokovic posed and shouted during a maskless trophy photoshoot at the media event.
His reasoning for going ahead with the 33 minute interview and photoshoot was because he “didn’t want to let the reporter down.”
“I accept that I should have postponed this engagement,” he wrote.
In an interview with the BBCSerbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said if Djokovic had attended events despite testing positive, “it would be a flagrant violation of the rules, because if you test positive you will have to be isolated.”
Article 248 of the Penal Code under Serbian law states: “Whoever, during an epidemic of a dangerous contagious disease, will not act in accordance with regulations, decisions or orders providing for measures for its suppression or prevention, will be punished with a fine or imprisonment of up to three years.
Inevitably, the tennis community was not impressed by Djokovic’s revelations.
Tennis journalist Gaspar Ribeiro Lanca tweeted: “Even if what Djokovic said is true, it confirms that he behaved completely irresponsibly not only in attending the L’Equipe interview but especially in going to an event. with children while awaiting a PCR result following an event where a number of people have tested positive.
AAP reporter Karen Sweeney posted: “However you think of it – as a fan or as a critic – it’s totally unacceptable. “
Wall Street Journal reporter Stuart Condie tweeted: “These are not confessions you would be comfortable making when the Australian Immigration Minister has the power to cancel your visa if he thinks that it is in the public interest. “
Journalist Seb Starcevic posted: “Just to be clear, if you get Covid before I’m supposed to interview you, I won’t be disappointed if you cancel. Not even a little. If you feel guilty, we can do it over the phone.
The decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa was overturned by the Federal Circuit Court on Monday, but even if Judge Anthony Kelly ruled in favor of the tennis star, there is still a possibility that Djokovic could be sent off.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has confirmed that he plans to use his personal power again to cancel Djokovic’s visa again.
“In accordance with due process, Minister Hawke will give the matter careful consideration,” Hawke’s office said on Tuesday.
Complete statement by Novak Djokovic
“I want to address the ongoing misinformation about my activities and attending events in December in the run-up to my positive Covid PCR result.
“This is misinformation that needs to be corrected, especially in the interest of alleviating wider community concerns about my presence in Australia, and to address issues of great hurt and concern to my family.
“I want to stress that I have made great efforts to ensure everyone’s safety and my compliance with testing obligations. I attended a basketball game in Belgrade on December 14, after which it was reported that a number of people had tested positive for Covid-19.
“Despite having no symptoms of Covid, I did a rapid antigen test on December 16 which came back negative, and as a precaution I also had an official and approved PCR test on the same day.
“The next day I attended a tennis event in Belgrade to give prizes to children and did a quick antigen test before going to the event, and it was negative. I was asymptomatic and feeling well, and only received notification of a positive PCR result after this event.
“The next day, December 18, I was at my tennis center in Belgrade fulfilling a long-standing commitment for an L’Equipe interview and photoshoot. I canceled all other events except the L’Equipe interview. I felt compelled to go ahead and conduct the L’Equipe interview as I didn’t want to let the reporter down, but I made sure to distance myself socially and wear a mask except when my photo was taken.
“As I returned home after the interview to self-isolate for the required period, upon reflection it was an error in judgment and I accept that I should have postponed this engagement.
“Regarding 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 apologizes for the administrative error in checking the wrong box concerning my previous trip before coming to Australia. It was human error and certainly not deliberate.
“We are living through a difficult time in a global pandemic and sometimes these mistakes can happen. Today my team provided additional information to the Australian government to clarify this issue.
“While I felt it was important to deal with and clarify the misinformation, I will not make any further comments out of respect for the Australian government and its authorities and the current process.
“It’s always an honor and a privilege to play at the Australian Open. The Australian Open is very popular with players, fans and the community, not just in Victoria and Australia but around the world, and I just want the opportunity to compete against the best players in the world and to play in front of one of the best crowds in the world.
Originally published as ‘totally unacceptable’: Novak Djokovic’s cops react after surprising Covid-19 confession