NOVAK Djokovic met with 25 kids and greeted people at THREE events while infected with Covid as he faces jail for flouting isolation rules.
The anti-vax tennis superstar has been accused of repeatedly breaking Covid rules after becoming embroiled in a vaccine row that threatens to eclipse his sport’s first major competition of the year.
Novak Djokovic has been accused of breaking Covid rules on multiple occasionsCredit: AP
Djokovic is facing widespread backlash after coming clean about knowingly flouting isolation measures while infected – which according to his country’s law is punishable by up to three years behind bars.
Serbia’s PM Ana Brnabic told BBC that if Djokovic had attended events despite a positive test, “it would be a clear breach of rules, because if you are positive, you would have to be isolation”.
Under Serbian law, breaking Covid rules can result in a jail sentence of up to three years.
After testing positive for the virus on December 16, Djokovic attended three events and was pictured posing maskless at them all – but claims he only knew he had Covid during the final one.
Event same day as positive test
Djokovic speaking at a panel discussion at the Novak Tennis Centre on December 16
According to court documents, Djokovic tested positive for Covid on December 16.
In Serbia, those who return a positive result are legally required to isolate for 14 days.
But that same day, he attended a panel discussion and a ceremony for the unveiling of a stamp in his honour in the Serbian captial Belgrade.
Pictures shared by Djokovic the following day on Twitter from the event show him maskless shaking hands with someone.
Other snaps show him, again without a face covering, as a panellist at an indoor discussion for his charity foundation.
Evidence submitted by Djokovic’s own lawyers says he took a PCR test just after 1pm. Documentation from the Institute of Public Health of Serbia states the result came back positive the same day, at around 8pm.
But according to Djokovic’s new statement shared on Instagram, he was unaware at this point that he had Covid.
He wrote: “I want to emphasise that I have tried very hard to ensure the safety of everyone and my compliance with testing obligations.
“I attended a basketball game in Belgrade on December 14 after which it was reported that a number of people tested positive with Covid-19.
“Despite having no Covid symptoms, I took a rapid antigen test on December 16 which was negative, and out of an abundance of caution, also took an official and approved PCR test on that same day.”
He claims he did not receive the PCR result until after an event the following day.
Meet & greet with youngsters
Djokovic posing with youngsters at an event with the Tennis Association of Belgrade on December 17
He was pictured meeting and greeting fans after the ceremony in BelgradeCredit: Instagram
Despite testing positive on December 16, pictures emerged of Djokovic hugging a child and not wearing a mask during a ceremony at the Novak Tennis Centre in Belgrade.
The event reportedly took place on December 17.
Djokovic, who was not wearing a mask, attended the Tennis Association of Belgrade’s event at his tennis centre and posed for pics with the youngsters.
A snap shows him at the centre of a group of 24 children, while another shows him grinning as he greets a fan.
In Serbia, social distancing measures are still enforced with it mandatory to “maintain physical distance of at least 1.5m in all public spaces”.
And face masks are required in all public spaces indoors, and outdoors, when the area is crowded.
Breaking the rules can result in a fine.
But Djokovic claims he did not receive his positive result until after the event.
He says had taken a rapid test the day before, December 16, which was negative, as well as a PCR test, for which he was awaiting the result.
“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, it was negative,” he wrote in a social media post.
“I was asymptomatic and felt good, and I had not received the notification of a positive PCR test until after that event.”
Photoshoot & interview with paper
Just two days after catching Covid on December 18, Djokovic took part in a photo shoot with a photographer from French newspaper L’Equipe despite KNOWING he had Covid.
He posed, maskless, with the paper’s Champion of Champion trophy, which is awarded in recognition of the most outstanding sportsman of the year.
According to L’Equipe, Djokovic wore a face-covering during the interview.
But for the photo shoot itself, he reportedly took it off.
In a statement shared on social media, Djokovic has has ADMITTED breaking isolation after testing positive for Covid in an “error of judgement”.
The Serbian tennis star has confessed that he met with a journalist two days after he tested positive in Belgrade, before his arrival Down Under.
He said he was “asymptomatic and felt good” but had received his positive PCR test before the shoot.
“On Decemeber 18 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,” Djokovic said.
“I felt obliged to go ahead and conduct the L’Equipe interview as I didn’t want to let the journalist down.
“[I ensured] 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 the commitment.”
Djokovic has also been accused of potentially breaking Covid rules on two other instances.
Travel form ‘lie’
Novak Djokovic was pictured in Belgrade, Serbia, on December 25
His Australian Travel Declaration form states he had not travelled in the 14 days before flying to Oz
Djokovic could face the prospect of prison over claims he lied on his travel forms as shock snaps appear to show he travelled before jetting off to Australia.
The anti-vaxxer ticked a box claiming he had not travelled to any other countries in the 14 days prior to his departure for the Australian Open in Melbourne.
But the sports star has blamed his agent for wrongly filling in the form declaring he hadn’t visited any countries before arriving in Australia.
He landed in Oz late on January 5, but social media posts show he spent time in Spain during that period – and was pictured practising on a tennis court in Marbella.
On its website, the Home Affairs Department warns that giving “false or misleading information” to the government is “a serious offence” carrying a possible jail term of up to 12 months.
In an Instagram post, he attributed the claim on the form to “human error” on behalf of his agent.
“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,” he wrote.
“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.”
Djokovic says his team has now “provided additional information” to the Aussie government to “clarify this matter” as border force officials investigate.
Oz jab row
Djokovic landed in Australia on January 5 before being whisked off to isolationCredit: AP
Djokovic may also have broken Covid rules by turning up in Australia without proper medical exemption to not have the jab.
On January 4, the anti-vaxxer boasted he was heading to Melbourne to play at the Australian Open after being given an exemption.
But on arrival, the Serbian ace dramatically has his visa cancelled, but lawyers for the 20-time Grand Slam winner argued that he didn’t need to have the vaccine as he had already had Covid and that border force officials hadn’t given enough notice to revoke his visa.
A judge on Monday ruled should be released from detention.
But despite a judge ruling the decision to cancel his visa was “unreasonable”, the anti-vaxxer could still be booted out of the country by the Aussie government.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke could use “personal discretion” to move ahead with another cancellation – which would see him banned from Oz for three years.
The Aussie government has confirmed Mr Hawke is still considering whether to cancel Djokovic’s visa.