Djokovic addresses 'continued misinformation': Public appearances were an error of judgement

By Sports Desk January 11, 2022

Novak Djokovic has moved to "address the continued misinformation" about his attendance at events in December after he had tested positive for COVID-19 prior to his arrival in Australia.

The world number one, who won an appeal on Monday over his visa cancellation after being detained on arrival in Melbourne last week, wrote a six-panel post on Instagram on Wednesday amid ongoing discussion on his participation at the upcoming Australian Open due to commence on January 17.

Djokovic has come under fire for allegedly incorrectly filling out his Australian Travel Declaration form, with Immigration Minister Alex Hawked stating he would "thoroughly consider" the false declaration.

The 20-time major winner said in the post that this was a "human error" and that he had since provided additional information to the Australian Government to clarify the matter.

The Serbian has also been criticised for appearing on social media to mingle with the public in a series of appearances after returning a positive test for COVID-19 on December 16.

Fellow Grand Slam winner Andy Murray had said on Tuesday that Djokovic needed to explain why he was out in public when positive with COVID-19, with Djokovic explaining his version of events.

"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," Djokovic wrote.

"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.

"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. I was asymptomatic and felt good, and I had not received the notification of a positive PCR test result until after that event.

"The next day, 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."

Djokovic said the false declaration, where it was written he had not travelled in the 14 days prior to his arrival in Australia, was a "human error" and "not deliberate".

"On the issue of my travel declaration, this was submitted by my support team on my behalf - as I told immigration officials on my arrival - and my agent sincerely apologises for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box about my previous travel before coming to Australia," Djokovic said.

"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."

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    Novak Djokovic beat Tim van Rijthoven on Sunday to take his place in the Wimbledon quarter-finals, and was very relieved to get the job done ahead of the 23:00BST curfew.

    World number one Djokovic saw off the Wimbledon debutant 6-2 4-6 6-1 6-2 on Centre Court to set up an intriguing last-eight clash with Jannik Sinner.

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    "He was on a streak on this surface, so I knew it wasn't going to be easy with that serve and a lot of talent, great touch and a powerful forehand. He can do a lot of damage.

    "It took me a little bit of time to get used to his pace, and the conditions under the roof are a little bit different, a bit slippery, so it takes a bit of adjusting, but overall I closed out the match well."

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    Where Van Rijthoven has one ATP-level title, Djokovic has 87. The 35-year-old Serbian remains the firm favourite to be holding the trophy on Centre Court next Sunday, that second set notwithstanding. Djokovic's resilient effort against a man in form means there has still never been an incidence of the men's singles top seed losing to a wildcard at a grand slam in the Open Era (since 1968).

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
    Djokovic – 28/19
    Van Rijthoven – 41/53

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Djokovic – 7/2
    Van Rijthoven – 20/5

    BREAK POINTS WON
    Djokovic – 6/17
    Van Rijthoven – 1/4

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