Novak Djokovic knew he'd tested positive for COVID-19 when he attended a newspaper interview and photo shoot in Serbia last month, saying Wednesday he made an "error of judgment" and should have immediately gone into isolation. In a statement posted to his social media accounts regarding "continuing misinformation," the tennis star said he’d taken rapid tests that were negative and he was asymptomatic before he received his positive result from a PCR test he undertook out of an "abundance of caution" after attending a basketball game in Belgrade on Dec. 14. The 34-year-old Serb received the result late Dec. 17, he said, and scrapped all his commitments except a long-standing interview with L'Equipe newspaper, reports the AP.
"I felt obliged to go ahead ... but did ensure I socially distanced and wore a mask except when my photograph was being taken," Djokovic said. "While I went home after the interview to isolate for the required period [Serbia requires those who are infected with COVID-19 to isolate for eight days], on reflection, this was an error of judgment." He also blamed "human error" by his support team for failing to declare that he had traveled in Spain and Serbia in the two-week period before entering Australia. Upon arrival, his visa was revoked and then later reinstated in an ongoing saga over whether he should be allowed into the country to play in the Australian Open despite not being vaccinated against COVID-19.
The nine-time and defending Australian Open champion remains in limbo before the year’s first tennis major starts next Monday. The stakes are particularly high since he is seeking a men's record 21st Grand Slam singles title. He won a legal battle on procedural grounds Monday that allowed him to stay in the country, but he still faces the prospect of deportation. That decision is entirely at the discretion of Australia's immigration minister. Deportation could result in sanctions ranging up to a three-year ban from entering Australia, a daunting prospect for a player who has won almost half of his 20 Grand Slam singles titles Down Under. The decision could take a while—but there is time pressure since the draw to determine brackets for the Australian Open is set to take place Thursday.
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