Novak Djokovic tested positive: a timeline of what happened next


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In an interview room at Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne, an Australian immigration officer sat down opposite tennis star Novak Djokovic.

The officer started with a warning.

“I am going to warn you now,” said the official, according to a public transcript in which both sides agreed that it was correct, “that you may be prosecuted under Australian law for finding false or forged documents, or false or misleading Provide information. “

Even before his plane landed in Melbourne last Wednesday evening, Djokovic’s application for a visa for the Australian Open next week was being examined and questions arose as to whether he would be allowed to enter the country. The answer, at least initially, was no. Australia, which requires vaccination of all foreign visitors but grants exemptions in limited cases, canceled Djokovic’s visa after his airport interview, only to have a judge reintroduced it on Monday for procedural reasons.

“This is his biggest victory, bigger than any Grand Slam he has won,” said his mother Dijana at a press conference in Belgrade, Serbia on Monday.

However, when Australia’s top immigration officer considered rejecting Djokovic’s visa again on Wednesday and the prime minister calculated the political cost of the fight, Djokovic made a statement on his Instagram account attempting to explain why he repeatedly appeared without a mask at public events after he believed he had been exposed to the coronavirus and for two days after a test confirmed he was positive.

The statement came days after reports were released, and Djokovic’s own social media posts raised questions about the validity of his visa papers and his actions in the days around December 16 when he was looking for his account had tested positive for the coronavirus. Djokovic called the reports of his movements “misinformation” despite confirming that they were correct.

Even the positive test result, which is at the core of the medical exemption Djokovic needed to participate in the Australian Open, has since been questioned by a published report.

On Monday, German newspaper Der Spiegel reported that it had scanned the unique computer code attached to Djokovic’s test result – which was included in the court files related to his visa appeal – and found that the test was initially negative for the virus . But a little more than an hour later, when Der Spiegel-Journalist and others checked the code again, the linked website said Djokovic’s test was positive. That was still the case on Tuesday morning.

However, the confusion over Djokovic’s test result only resulted in renewed questions about his behavior and false statements about his trip around the time he tested positive.

If Djokovic had indeed received a positive result on December 16, his actions in the days that followed – when he should have been isolated – could have endangered the health and safety of dozens of people. On the day of his test and the two following, for example, Djokovic’s own social media postings and simultaneous accounts show that, even after a positive test result, he repeatedly appeared without a mask at public events and in the vicinity of children and strangers.

In order to obtain a visa to enter Australia, Djokovic and his lawyers submitted documents stating that he had tested positive for the coronavirus on December 16. He cited this positive finding when he was interviewed by officers from the Australian Border Police upon his arrival in Melbourne.

Djokovic presented the test result from December 16 “unsolicited”, said the Australians in a court file. A transcript of his interview that was taped contained the following exchange:

INTERVIEWER: Thank you. Have you ever had COVID?


INTERVIEWER: When did you do that?

DJOKOVIC: I had COVID twice, I had COVID in June 2020 and I had COVID recently in – I tested positive – PCR – December 16, 2021.

INTERVIEWER: Thank you. Sorry what was the date? December 16?

DJOKOVIC: December 16, 2021, I also have the documents to confirm that I can provide them if requested – only as –

INTERVIEWER: Thank you. I’m just making a photocopy of these documents –

The records also include the time of the test, which was collected around 1 p.m. on December 16 and a positive result was returned seven hours later. In his statement on Wednesday, Djokovic claimed he only learned the positive result after attending an event at a tennis center on December 17 and two rapid antigen tests giving negative results.

The positive test result was used to justify Djokovic’s request for medical exemption for the Australian Open, which requires vaccination of all tournament participants but granted several exceptions to the rule.

On January 4, Djokovic announced on his Instagram account that he had received the necessary exemption. Alongside a smiling photo, he said he was on his way to Australia.

But what he had done in the days after his positive test threatened to cause him problems.

On December 16, the day Djokovic sought a test for the virus, Djokovic was honored with a stamp by the Serbian Post and toured their facility. In photos from the event Djokovic can be seen with the acting director of the Serbian postal service Zoran Dordevic.

Djokovic also took part in a one-hour panel discussion that day at a tennis center that bears his name. The topic? “The role and establishment of authority in character and discipline development.”

A day later, Djokovic appeared at an event in honor of young tennis players at the tennis center. None of the dozen people in a group photo from the ceremony, including Djokovic, whose test result was confirmed the night before, was wearing a mask.

The distance between Novak Djokovic and Australia

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How it started The stalemate began when Djokovic, a vaccine skeptic, was granted a waiver that would allow him to defend his Australian Open title. Upon arrival, federal officials said he failed to meet entry requirements because he was not vaccinated and canceled his visa.

What happens next. Australian officials hinted that they might make a new attempt to cancel Djokovic’s visa despite the fact that the tennis champion, who was released from custody, returned to the court. The stalemate also heralds headwinds he may face if he tries to travel the world without a vaccination.

In his statement, Djokovic said that he had a negative rapid antigen test prior to this event and only found out about his positive polymerase chain reaction test after that.

However, the next day, December 18, Djokovic took part in a photo shoot with the French sports newspaper L’Equipe. Djokovic said on Wednesday that he canceled all other commitments besides the interview that day upon learning of his positive test. He also said he was socially distant and wore a mask other than in the photos, although he admitted that he regretted having carried out the interview as planned.

“I went home after the interview to isolate myself for the time required, but after deliberation this was a misconduct and I accept that I should have postponed this commitment,” he wrote on Instagram.

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday that if Djokovic attended events after learning about them, he was certain that he was “clearly breaking the rules”.

Djokovic, who confirmed in his airport interview last week that he is not vaccinated, said he would not make any further comments. On Monday he said he was “pleased and grateful” about the judge’s ruling on the return of his visa and clearly plans to stay in Australia, where he is due to begin defending his Australian Open title next week. He resumed the practice almost immediately after he was released.

Meanwhile, Australia’s immigration minister continues to “thoroughly consider the matter” of his expulsion and will certainly weigh up whether Djokovic was truthful in his statements and visa papers.

However, as the official noted in his first interview at the airport, providing false or misleading information could be considered a criminal offense in Australia. The renewed loss of his visa could mean that Djokovic will be prevented from returning to Australia – and the first major tournament of the tennis season – for at least three years.

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