MELBOURNE, Australia — Novak Djokovic, the top-ranked men’s tennis player, acknowledged on Wednesday that a travel document he presented to Australian border officials last week contained false information, as the country’s authorities continued to investigate whether he should be deported.
Mr. Djokovic also said that he had participated in an interview and a photo shoot last month in his native Serbia even after testing positive for the coronavirus, in an apparent breach of the country’s rules for infected people. Officials in Australia have indicated that they are investigating whether Mr. Djokovic poses a health risk to the public.
The tennis star’s comments came in a statement he released on social media that he said was intended to “clarify misinformation” about the weeks before he arrived in Melbourne for the Australian Open. After being detained by Australian border officials for several days, he was finally released by a federal judge on Monday.
But Mr. Djokovic’s statement did not fully resolve a range of questions that have swirled over his quest to remain in Australia and seek a record 21st Grand Slam title. They include the exact time he learned about the positive test and how his travel documents were falsified to claim that he hadn’t traveled internationally in the 14 days preceding his arrival in Australia.
The statement posted on Instagram, which Mr. Djokovic said would be his last remarks about his ordeal in Australia, was released as the country’s immigration minister said he was still considering whether to exercise his personal powers to cancel the player’s visa again. Officials from immigration were also looking into the documentation Mr. Djokovic submitted last week when he tried to enter Australia. The exemption from the requirement for Covid-19 vaccinations was not required.
Officials from Australia granted the exemption due to what Mr. Djokovic claimed was a Covid infection that he had in mid December. He was criticised for photos on social media showing him at events during which he was allegedly infected by the coronavirus.
On Wednesday, Mr. Djokovic stated that he had taken a P.C.R. After some people at a basketball match he attended two days prior, he was tested for the coronavirus on Dec. 16. Despite having no symptoms, he also took a rapid antigen test “out of an abundance of caution,” he said, and it came back negative.
He stated that he was still waiting for his P.C.R. He attended a tennis tournament in Belgrade, Serbia’s capital, to present awards to children. He stated that he had taken another rapid antigen test prior to attending the event, which was negative. His P.C.R. He said that he had taken another rapid antigen test before attending the event, which came back negative, and that his P.C.R. did not come back until after the event was over.
On Dec. 18, he went ahead with an interview and a photo shoot with the French sports newspaper L’Equipe “to fulfill a longstanding commitment,” he said.
“I felt obliged to go ahead and conduct the L’Equipe interview as I didn’t want to let the journalist down, but did ensure I socially distanced and wore a mask except when my photograph was taken,” Mr. Djokovic said.
“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,” he added.
This was not the first time that Mr. Djokovic had to apologize for his dismissive actions during the pandemic. He held a tournament of tennis in mid-2020 as the virus was raging across Europe. After which, he and others were tested positive.
While Mr. Djokovic said in his statement on Wednesday that he “had not received the notification of a positive PCR result” until Dec. 17 — after the event involving children — documents he provided to Australian officials as he tried to enter the country said that the result had been returned the day before.
A copy his medical certificate for the positive P.C.R. His positive P.C.R. resulted in a copy of his medical certificate. In an affidavit provided to an Australian court, he said, “On 16 December 2021, I was tested and diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 (COVID).” It was unclear when exactly he learned of his purported positive test.
The Serbian prime minister, Ana Brnabic, said this week that had Mr. Djokovic known that he was positive for the coronavirus before attending the awards event on Dec. 17, he would have “clearly violated the rules” in Serbia.
The Novak Djokovic standoff with Australia
But more information was required, she added, saying, “I don’t know when he received the test result, when he read it.”
When asked what would happen if Mr. Djokovic was found to have breached quarantine rules, she said the Serbian government would “deal with it.”
In his statement, Mr. Djokovic also addressed concerns about the declaration he made in his visa paperwork that he hadn’t traveled to any other country within the 14 days preceding his arrival in Australia. False answers to this question could result in severe penalties according to the paperwork.
His declaration seemed to have been contradicted by social media posts that showed him traveling between Spain, and Serbia. On Wednesday, he said his agent had made an “administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box.”
“This was a human error and certainly not deliberate,” he said, adding that his team on Wednesday had “provided additional information to the Australian government to clarify the matter.”
This means it is unlikely that the saga will be resolved quickly, with the immigration minister, Alex Hawke, indicating that he needed more time to consider the new information before deciding whether to cancel Mr. Djokovic’s visa again.
A spokesman for Mr. Hawke said that Mr. Djokovic’s lawyers had made “lengthy further submissions and supporting documentation said to be relevant to the possible cancellation of Mr. Djokovic’s visa.”
“Naturally, this will affect the time frame for a decision,” he added.
Source: NY Times