Novak Djokovic’s family refuse to answer questions over positive Covid-19 result

The positive Covid-19 result, recorded on 16 December, formed the basis of Djokovic’s appeal for a vaccine medical exemption

Jamie Braidwood
Monday 10 January 2022 19:02 GMT
Novak Djokovic wins appeal against deportation from Australia
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The family of Novak Djokovic refused to answer questions surrounding the tennis player’s positive Covid-19 test, adjourning a press conference on Monday when asked why the world No 1 had appeared to have not followed self-isolation rules upon receiving the result last month.

Djokovic won his appeal against deportation from Australia after Judge Anthony Kelly quashed an order to cancel his visa following scrutiny over his medical exemption for the Covid vaccine.

The Serbian’s legal team confirmed Djokovic had returned a positive PCR result for Covid on 16 December and had used that as grounds for applying for a medical exemption, which was granted according to Australian Open regulations following reviews from two independent medical panels.

Djokovic said he was “pleased and grateful” in a social media post as he returned to training following his release from an immigration facility in Melbourne, where he had been held since arriving in the country last week.

Meanwhile, in Serbia, the world No 1’s family conducted a press conference where his mother Dijana claimed her son had been “subjected to torture” while fighting deportation from Australia, with his father Srdan stating his successful appeal had been a victory for “freedom of speech”.

Questions remained, however, following the emergence of pictures on social media of Djokovic out in public and maskless on 17 December, one day after he said he had received the positive PCR result.

Djokovic did not disclose to the public he had tested positive, unlike when he previously contracted Covid in June 2020, and it was not until his legal representatives submitted their appeal this week that his positive result emerged.

When asked by journalists what Djokovic was doing at an event on 17 December, his brother Djordje replied: “This press conference is adjourned.” Djordje had previously confirmed that Djokovic had tested positive on 16 December, adding: “Yes, the whole process was public. All the documents are public.”

Images on social media that surfaced following the disclosure of his positive result appear to show that Djokovic had attended an event at his Novak Tennis Centre in Belgrade on 17 December.

Djokovic was pictured, maskless, at an awards ceremony for children at his tennis centre, while documents showed he had received his positive PCR result at around 8pm local time the previous day, seven hours after taking the test.

Djokovic has yet to address the pictures. His social media post on Monday, which showed him training at the Rod Laver Arena with his team, added: “Despite all that has happened, I want to stay and try to compete at the Australian Open. I remain focused on that. I flew here to play at one of the most important events we have in front of the amazing fans.

“For now I cannot say more but THANK YOU standing with me through all this and encouraging me to stay strong.”

Djokovic is now preparing for the tournament, which begins next week, although this may not yet be the end of the affair. A possible ban from Australia still hangs over Djokovic’s head, given the potential for a discretionary call from the immigration minister to supersede the home affairs minister who was included as part of the court case.

During Monday’s hearing, government counsel Christopher Tran notified the court that the minister for immigration, Alex Hawke, will now consider whether to exercise a “personal power of cancellation” of Djokovic’s visa that could ultimately see him banned from Australia for three years.

The decision to allow Djokovic, a nine-time champion in Melbourne, into Australia means he now has the chance to defend his 2021 title and move ahead of Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal with a record 21st grand slam title.

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