Novak Djokovic issued a lengthy statement on Tuesday in which he attempted to clear up “misinformation” regarding his positive COVID-19 test in December and the resulting controversy when attempting to enter Australia for the Australian Open.
Djokovic, the world’s top-ranked men’s singles player and a known opponent of the COVID-19 vaccine, he was briefly denied entry to Australia after Australian border control noticed an error in his medical exemption. He also submitted medical records showing he had tested positive for COVID in December, sparking further controversy for a country with strict travel policies instead in the middle of the pandemic.
He was later held at a Melbourne hotel for detained immigrants while the courts decided whether to allow him to enter the country.
He eventually won an appeal to enter the country and compete in the Australian Open, creating even more controversy for those who have been affected by the reduction in travel in and out of the country.
Djokovic’s statement attempted to clarify what he described as misinformation about his attempt to enter the country, in particular how he had already tested positive for COVID while attending a children’s tennis event in Belgrade in mid-December. He claimed not to know that he was positive at the time, he only received news of his positive test after the event occurred.
In addition, he apologized for conducting an interview with L’Equipe, a French newspaper, around the same time, although he knowingly remained positive. Despite taking adequate precautions to maintain social distance during the interview, he acknowledged that the interview itself was a mistake and that he should have rescheduled it. He also said that he would no longer speak on the subject.
Djokovic has won the Australian Open nine times previously, more than any other Grand Slam event. A victory in the 2022 tournament would give him 21 Grand Slam titles, surpassing the marks of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal of 20 titles each.
That said, he could still cancel his travel visa if Australia’s Immigration Minister Alex Hawke decides to exercise his personal power to get the 34-year-old out of the country. That would prevent Djokovic from entering Australia for three years, although the decision is still pending.