Novak Djokovic practiced at Rod Laver Arena as a statement was posted to his Instagram page on Wednesday in the latest attempt to clarify the circumstances that led to a week of drama in Australia.
Yet to be fully cleared from the possibility of deportation, the world No. 1 said widespread misinformation compelled him to issue a statement with tournament play only days away.
Djokovic cited “human error” by his support team for a mistake on travel documents required for entry to Australia. Those errors contributed to revocation of his visa, which was ultimately reinstated after the Serb was held at a quarantine hotel.
The 34-year-old could learn his deportation fate any day as the Australian Open draw is set for Thursday.
Media chronicled Djokovic’s attendance at a photo shoot and shared images of him unmasked at the event Dec. 17, three days after attending a basketball game in Belgrade — again, unmasked. Djokovic said he took a COVID-19 test after that game in preparation for the required 14-day quarantine ahead of the Australian Open.
On forms filed to Australian authorities, Djokovic said he had no travel for 14 days prior to his arrival. Australian authorities are focused on Djokovic being seen in Spain and Serbia during the two-week window in question.
‘Error of Judgement’
“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 of the photo shoot in his statement Wednesday. “While I went home after the interview to isolate for the required period, on reflection, this was an error of judgment.”
He went on to say his support team was in error filling out the document and that “my agent sincerely apologizes for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box. This was a human error and certainly not deliberate. My team has provided additional information to the Australian Government to clarify this matter.”
Deportation could include a three-year ban from Australia.
Djokovic is not vaccinated but was approved for a medical exemption by Tennis Australia, which claimed a limited number of approvals were granted among 26 applicants connected to the Australian Open.
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–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)