Novak Djokovic Admits Didn't Immediately Isolate After COVID Positive, Submitted False Documents
Novak Djokovic says he did not immediately isolate after learning he tested positive for COVID-19, and also provided the Australian government with travel documents containing false information.
On Wednesday, the 34-year-old Serbian tennis star released a statement on social media to "clarify misinformation" about his movements prior to entering Australia to compete in the Australian Open.
Djokovic said that he participated in an interview and photoshoot in Serbia on Dec. 18 despite having knowledge that late Dec. 17 he tested positive for COVID. He said that he "didn't want to let the journalist down" by canceling, as the interview was a "long-standing commitment."
"On reflection, this was an error of judgment, and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment," he wrote, adding that he canceled all other appointments that day.
Djokovic said he went home to isolate following the interview and photoshoot.
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The tennis player also acknowledged in his statement that he submitted a travel document with false information to officials at the Australian border last week, claiming it was simply a "human error."
In the document, Djokovic claimed that he had not traveled and would not for the 14 days before his arrival in Australia on Jan. 5. However, the athlete — who lives in Monte Carlo, Monaco — appeared in various pictures during that period in Spain and Serbia, CNN previously reported.
The tennis player clarified that his team filled out and submitted the travel forms on his behalf and his agent "sincerely apologizes for the administrative mistake." He claimed that his agent checked the wrong box regarding Djokovic's travel.
"This was a human error and certainly not deliberate," Djokovic said. "We are living in challenging times in a global pandemic and sometimes these mistakes can occur. Today, my team has provided additional information to the Australian Government to clarify this matter."
The Australian Border Force has reportedly been investigating the 20-time Grand Slam winner for allegedly lying on the documents, which were submitted to the Australian court. Officials will determine whether or not Djokovic, who is unvaccinated, breached the country's rules for infected people or poses a risk to public health, The New York Times reported.
Djokovic could face up to 12 months in prison for falsifying a travel declaration, according to the Australian Department of Home Affairs website.
Wednesday's statement comes after Djokovic also temporarily had his visa revoked upon arrival in Australia. Last week, Djokovic landed in Melbourne and his visa was denied due to an error — and despite receiving a COVID-19 vaccine medical exemption to play in the Grand Slam tournament.
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Djokovic's medical exception was mandatory for him to compete in the tournament, and would allow him to play regardless of his vaccination status, which he had never previously publicly confirmed.
However, Australian Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly reinstated the tennis star's visa Monday morning. According to the New York Times, the judge found that border authorities canceled his visa before he was given a chance to contact his lawyers, as well as tournament organizers.
Reinstating Djokovic's visa, however, does not guarantee that the Serbian athlete will be allowed to compete in the Australian Open, which begins on Jan. 17. Australian officials warned that Djokovic's visa could be canceled for a second time as immigration officials "will consider whether to exercise a personal power of cancelation," according to ESPN.
If Djokovic's visa is canceled once again, the athlete could face deportation and a ban from the country for three years, according to The New York Times.