Novak Djokovic says agent mistakenly 'ticked wrong box' on Australian declaration form

World No 1 issues lengthy statement to address 'misinformation' about his movements after testing positive for Covid-19 in December

Novak Djokovic released a long statement on Wednesday explaining why he was not in isolation after testing positive for Covid-19 in December and saying his agent made a mistake in filling out his Australian travel declaration.

"I want to address the continuing misinformation about my activities and attendance at events in December in the lead up to my positive PCR COVID test result," the world No 1 wrote on Instagram.

"This is misinformation that needs to be corrected, particularly in the interest of alleviating broader concern in the community about my presence in Australia, and to address matters which are very hurtful to my family."

The statement came as Australia's Immigration Minister Alex Hawke was considering whether to cancel the Serb's visa ahead of the Australian Open, which starts on January 17, amid controversy over whether he was eligible for a medical exemption from the country's Covid-19 vaccine requirements.

"I want to emphasise that I have tried very hard to ensure the safety of everyone and my compliance with testing obligations," Djokovic added.

Amid questions about his Australian Travel Declaration where he had to state whether he had travelled within 14 days of coming to Australia, he said his agent accidentally ticked the wrong box on the form.

"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 apologies [sic] for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box about my previous travel before coming to Australia," Djokovic said.

Giving false or misleading information in the form is an offence, carrying a maximum penalty of 12 months in prison, and a fine of up to A$6,600 ($4,730) and can lead to cancellation of the offender's visa.

Djokovic, who is seeking to win a record 21st tennis major at the Australian Open, said his lawyers had provided additional information to the Australian government on Wednesday to clarify the matter.

Djokovic also admitted to making an “error of judgement” by attending an interview with a French journalist while Covid positive.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion said he attended a children’s tennis event the day after being tested for Covid-19.

“I had not received the notification of a positive PCR test result until after that event,” the statement said.

“The next day, on 18 December 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 except for the L’Equipe interview.

“I felt obliged to go ahead and conduct the L’Equipe interview as I didn’t want to let the journalist down, but did ensure 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 this commitment.”

The 34-year-old entered Australia last week with a vaccine exemption due to a positive test for Covid-19 on December 16.

The following day, however, he appeared without a mask at the launch of a Serbian stamp bearing his image and at an event in Belgrade for young tennis players.

Djokovic said he only received the positive results of the PCR test for Covid-19 infection on December 17, after the youth tennis event.

He made no mention of the stamp ceremony.

The player said he had a negative rapid antigen test on December 16 and then had the PCR test out of an "abundance of caution".

The following day, he took a second rapid antigen test, which was also negative, before going to the children's tennis event.

"I was asymptomatic and felt good, and I had not received the notification of a positive PCR test until after that event," he said.

Australia has a policy barring non-citizens or non-residents from entry unless they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 but offers a medical exemption. Djokovic's visa was cancelled on the grounds he has not been vaccinated and his medical exemption was not satisfactory.

But the vaccine-sceptic Djokovic's high-powered legal team dramatically overturned the visa decision in court on Monday on a procedural matter related to his airport interview.

Djokovic's case provoked a row between Canberra and Belgrade and fuelled heated debate over mandatory Covid-19 vaccination policies.

Updated: January 12th 2022, 4:53 AM