A JOURNALIST who interviewed Novak Djokovic “didn’t know the tennis star had Covid and wasn’t allowed to ask about his vaccine status.”
The tennis legend tested positive for Covid on December 16 and then interviewed with French media outlet L’Equipe on December 18 – when he knew he had the virus.
The tennis legend tested positive for Covid on December 16 and then interviewed with French media outlet L’Equipe on December 18Credit: Getty
The Serb isn’t vaccinated for Covid-19 and was denied entry into Australia last week despite obtaining an exemption against the jab.
He is waiting to find out if he can compete in this year’s Australian Open after winning a court appeal to stay in the country.
But Franck Ramella, the journalist who conducted the interview in December, has now said he didn’t know about Djokovic’s positive Covid test until he was detained in Melbourne Airport.
Ramella said that he himself tested negative this week before flying to Australia to cover the tournament.
He wrote in L’Equipe: “We arrived at the interview. The instructions had been clear: no questions on vaccinations and the intentions of the Serb over the Australian Open.
“Very delicate subjects, if you still doubt it. We did not think about asking him if he had thought about getting a test.
“And if yes, what was the result.
“During 33 minutes, according to the timer, Djokovic responded to the questions with conviction.
“Both of us were protected, opposite each other at a distance of about one metre on either side of a long rectangular table.
“Asked by Etienne to take off his mask for five minutes during the interview, Djokovic refused.”
Earlier today, the world number one released a statement admitting he attended the interview despite knowing he contracted the virus in an attempt to honour his “commitment.”
He wrote: “While I went home after the interview to isolate for the required period, on reflection, this was an error of judgment and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment.”
Djokovic blamed his agent’s error for an “administrative mistake” after he claimed he hadn’t travelled in the two weeks before his flight to Australia.
But it has since emerged he was in Belgrade less than two weeks before his flight from Spain to Australia on January 4.
He added: “My agent sincerely apologises for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box about my previous travel before coming to Australia.
“This was a human error and certainly not deliberate.”
A former top official has warned he could now be arrested on the tennis court by armed cops if his visa is axed.
Djokovic’s fresh deportation risk comes as a minister mulls whether to again revoke his visa after it was reinstated by a judge.
The anti-vaxxer returned to training in Melbourne on Monday hours after being freed from detention after winning his visa court battle.
But despite a judge ruling the decision to cancel his visa was “unreasonable”, the tennis player could still be booted out of the country by the Aussie government.
This comes as the Serbian nine-time winner Down Under was given his marching orders following a six-hour stand-off at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport.
As the 34-year-old star attempted to enter Aussie territory, he was ordered into a side-room by Border Force guards after a visa “blunder” was revealed.
He had initially been granted a vaccine exemption – his lawyers said, because he contracted Covid-19 in December – to compete before his visa was dramatically cancelled.
Even Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic got involved, eventually contacting Djokovic to offer his support and backing and summoning Australia’s ambassador to the country for a dressing down.
But it was all to no avail and Djokovic was informed that his visa – when he was granted an exemption to play despite his unvaccinated status – had been cancelled.
His legal team claimed he only agreed to the cancellation because he was disorientated by lack of sleep, and left reeling by official’s “procedurally unfair” treatment.
Court documents claim Aussie officials made “mischievous and spurious” attempts to rush him into signing off on the cancellation.
He was then detained, despite pleading to be moved to more elaborate digs with a tennis court or to have his private chef provide vegan meals – requests which were denied.