Novak Djokovic on Tuesday issued a lengthy statement attempting to clarify “misinformation” regarding his positive COVID-19 test in December and ensuing controversy as he attempted to enter Australia for the Australian Open.
Djokovic, the world’s top-ranked men’s singles player and a noted opponent to the COVID-19 vaccine, was briefly denied entry to Australia after Australian border control noted an error in his medical exemption. He also produced medical records that showed he had a positive COVID test in December, creating more controversy for a country with strict travel policies in place amid the pandemic.
He was later held in a Melbourne hotel for immigration detainees while the courts decided whether to allow him into the country.
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He ultimately won an appeal to enter the country and compete in the Australian Open, creating yet more controversy for those who have been affected by reduced travel into and out of the country.
Djokovic’s statement attempted to clarify what he described as misinformation regarding his attempt to enter the country — notably how he had already tested positive for COVID while attending a children’s tennis event in Belgrade in mid-December. He claimed to not know he was positive at the time, only receiving word of his positive test after the event had occurred.
Moreover, he apologized for conducting an interview with L’Equipe — a French daily newspaper — around the same time, while still knowingly positive. Despite taking proper precautions to socially distance during the interview, he conceded the interview itself was a mistake and he should’ve rescheduled. He also said he would no longer speak on the issue.
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Djokovic has won the Australian Open nine times previously, more than any other Grand Slam event. A win in the 2022 tournament would give him 21 Grand Slam titles, moving him past Roger Federer’s and Rafael Nadal’s marks of 20 titles apiece.
That said, he could still have his travel visa canceled if Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke decides to exercise his personal power to remove the 34-year-old from the country. That would bar Djokovic from entering Australia for three years, though the decision is still pending.