Novak Djokovic has hit out at what he calls “continuing misinformation” over his movements in December, in the wake of his positive COVID-19 test, while also admitting to an “error of judgement.”
Djokovic tested positive on December 16, but was seen in public in the days immediately after that diagnosis.
In a lengthy Instagram post, the world No.1 says the accusations he flaunted the rules are “hurtful.”
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“I want to address the continuing misinformation about my activities and attendance at events in December in the lead up to my positive PCR COVID test result,” he wrote.
“This is misinformation which needs to be corrected, particularly in the interest of alleviating broader concern in the community about my presence in Australia, and to address matters which are very hurtful and concerning to my family.
“I want to emphasise that I have tried very hard to ensure the safety of everyone and my compliance with testing obligations.”
The 20-time Grand Slam champion then outlined the sequence of events surrounding his positive test in mid-December.
“I attended a basketball game in Belgrade on 14 December after which it was reported that a number of people tested positive with COVID-19.
“Despite having no COVID symptoms I took a rapid antigen test on 16 December which was negative, and out of an abundance of caution, also took an official and approved PCR test on that same day.”
Djokovic has been under fire for attending an event on December 17, a day after he tested positive, but the 34-year-old said he had no idea at the time he was positive.
Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said this morning that it would be a “clear breach” of Serbia’s rules had Djokovic been out and about after testing positive.
“The next day I attended a tennis event in Belgrade to present awards to children and took a rapid antigen test before going to the event, and it was negative,” Djokovic wrote.
“I was asymptomatic and felt good, and I had not received the notification of a positive PCR test result until after that event.”
The reigning Australian Open champion then gave a media interview the next day, which he now admits was a mistake.
“On 18 December I was at my tennis centre in Belgrade to fulfil a long-standing commitment for a L’Equipe interview and photoshoot. I cancelled all other events except for the L’Equipe interview.
“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 being taken.
“While I went home after the interview to isolate for the required period, on reflection, this was an error of judgement and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment.”
The Serbian star has also been under-fire for incorrectly stating on his immigrations forms that he hadn’t travelled in the 14 days prior to his arrival in Australia.
It was subsequently revealed that he travelled from Belgrade to Marbella in Spain to train in late December and early January.
“My agent sincerely apologises for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box about my previous travel before coming to Australia,” he wrote.
“This was a human error and certainly not deliberate. 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.
“While I felt it was important to address and clarify misinformation I will not be making any further comment out of utmost respect for the Australian Government and their authorities and the current process.
“It is always an honour and a privilege to play in the Australian Open. The Australian Open is much-loved by players, fans and the community, not just in Victoria and in Australia, but around the globe, and I just want to have the opportunity to compete against the best players in the world and perform before one of the best crowds in the world.”
Djokovic has trained again on Rod Laver Arena today, 24 hours after a rival player described the “uncomfortable” atmosphere when the world No.1 entered the on-site gym.
“The place went silent with everyone staring,” the player said.
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