Researchers Spot Issue With Djokovic's COVID Certificate

Evidence suggests dates might be off
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2022 7:20 AM CST
There's Something Weird About Djokovic's COVID Test
Recently deported from Australia for not being vaccinated against COVID-19, Novak Djokovic prepares to take his seat on a plane to Belgrade, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Jan. 17, 2022.   (AP Photo/Darko Bandic, File)

(Newser) – Novak Djokovic's attempt to get into Australia without meeting vaccine requirements involved a positive COVID test he presented from weeks earlier—but the BBC and German researchers have detected something strange about it. The test certificate from Serbia that the tennis star's lawyer gave to Australian authorities is dated Dec. 16, but the serial number is out of sequence with those on 56 other Serbian COVID certificates seen by the BBC. On every certificate except Djokovic's Dec. 16 one, the lower the serial number, the earlier the test. But with Djokovic, his positive test had a higher serial number than the Dec. 22 certificate showing he had tested negative for COVID. The tests were given to authorities to show that Djokovic had recovered from the virus.

German research group Zerforschung has also noted the discrepancy. In a blog post about Djokovic's "time-traveling PCR tests," the group said Unix timestamps indicated that his Dec. 22 test certificate was indeed from Dec. 22, but the Dec. 16 one was really from Dec. 26, which fits in with the BBC's timeline of test numbers. Djokovic left Serbia shortly after Dec. 26 to travel to Spain, then Dubai on his way to Melbourne, the Telegraph notes. There has been no comment from Djokovic or Serbian authorities on the discrepancy. The BBC notes that while it's possible different labs have different batches of confirmation codes, it has viewed two tests from the same lab where Djokovic's Dec. 16 test was carried out that have later dates and lower serial numbers.

"There is always the possibility for a glitch," digital specialist Djordje Krivokapic tells the BBC. "But if that were the case, there would be a simple explanation," he says. "I don’t see why the state authorities wouldn’t just say that." Djokovic has said he made an "error of judgment" by attending a photo shoot and newspaper interview after receiving the positive test result. After a legal battle in Australia, where he had hoped to defend his Australian Open title, the player was deported not because of the COVID certificates, but because judges felt his presence in the country "might foster anti-vaccination sentiment." (Read more Novak Djokovic stories.)

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