/ 13 January 2022

Djokovic’s mea culpa

Image source: AAP
Image source: AAP

Men’s world #1 tennis player Novak Djokovic has admitted he attended an interview in December whilst he had COVID. The Serbian star posted on Instagram yesterday that he knew he’d tested positive for the virus 2 days before sitting down with French sports newspaper L’Equipe but says he felt obliged to keep the commitment. That was an error of judgement, he now says. Team Djokovic have also fronted up to immigration officials to clarify his declaration that he had not travelled in the fortnight before coming to Oz. His agent ticked the wrong box – a human error rather than a plot to evade authorities, Djokovic says. “We are living in challenging times in a global pandemic and sometimes these mistakes can occur,” he wrote.

Not much yet… The Home Affairs Department warns that giving false or misleading information to the Government is a “serious offence” carrying a possible jail term. When it comes to cancelling Djokovic’s visa, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke is still having a think. Under his discretionary powers, Hawke could have Djokovic deported on public health grounds, and that would see him banned from entering Oz for 3 years. Hawke’s office says Djokovic’s lawyers have provided further “lengthy” submissions relevant to the final decision, and they needed some time to consider them. 

Speaking just before Djokovic fessed up, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said it would be a “clear breach of rules” if he was out in public after a positive COVID test. And when it comes to his fellow players, Andy Murray says Djokovic still has questions to answer “around the isolation and stuff” but is pleased he’s out of immigration detention. More broadly, former women’s champ Martina Navratilova said she admires Djokovic but “can’t defend” his choice not to get vaccinated. Meanwhile, Seven newsreaders Rebecca Maddern and Mike Amor were caught having an off-air crack at Djokovic – the vision was leaked on Twitter. TV industry types say that would usually be embarrassing, but the largely positive response won’t harm them. And it could be an indication of the reception Djokovic receives if he plays in the Australian Open, which starts next week.

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