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Novak Djokovic Admits He Didn't Isolate After Positive COVID-19 Test & Could Face Jail In Australia

Photo: Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock
Novak Djokovic

Tennis star Novak Djokovic has admitted that he did not immediately isolate after learning he had tested positive for COVID-19, and that he provided the Australian government with travel documents containing false information.

Djokovic, 34, released a statement on social media to “clarify misinformation” pertaining to his whereabouts prior to entering Australia to compete in the Australian Open.

Djokovic claimed that he had participated in an interview and photoshoot in Serbia on December 18, despite finding out he had tested positive for the virus on December 17.

The Serbian tennis star said that he “didn’t want to let the journalist down” by canceling, since the interview was a “long-standing commitment.” 

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"On reflection, this was an error of judgment, and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment," Djokovic wrote, admitting that he canceled all other appointments that day.

After the interview and photoshoot, Djokovic said he immediately went home to isolate.

This likely means the Australian government will have to investigate whether the tennis star lied on his travel documents which could get him into serious trouble.

Will Novak Djokovic face jail time in Australia for lying about his Covid status?

According to the Australian Department of Home Affairs website, the penalty for submitting a false travel declaration carries a minimum penalty of 12 months in prison.

Equally, as Djokovic's false claims were presented in court, the tennis star could face up to five years in prison under Australia's Crimes Act which outlaws giving misleading information in court. 

Despite the judge allowing Djokovic to walk free and start training for the tournament that begins next week, he could still face deportation.

The Australian Border Force is investigating whether the travel declaration inconsistency and the immigration minister is still considering whether to remove him from the country.

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Officials will determine whether or not Djokovic, who is unvaccinated, breached the country's rules for infected people or poses a risk to public health.

Australian officials warned that Djokovic's visa could be canceled for a second time as immigration officials "will consider whether to exercise a personal power of cancellation.”

Since Djokovic’s visa was revoked in the early hours of Thursday morning and he was ordered to leave Australia, he has been detained in the Park hotel – an immigration detention hotel in Melbourne – as he awaits his hearing.

If Djokovic's visa is canceled once again, the athlete could face deportation and a ban from the country for three years.

Novak Djokovic's Australian travel visa could be revoked. 

Djokovic first arrived in Melbourne last week and had his visa canceled for entering the country without a valid exemption for the country's vaccination requirement for all arrivals.

He eventually won the legal battle on Monday, after a judge ruled Djokovic could be allowed to stay.

However, questions have continued to arise over his positive COVID-19 diagnosis, and the many public events he attended."I want to emphasize that I have tried very hard to ensure the safety of everyone and my compliance with testing obligations,” he said in his statement.

Despite Djokovic claiming that he had not traveled in the 14 days prior to arriving in Australia, photos taken showed the tennis star in both Spain and Serbia.

In his statement, he apologized for the false declaration, saying it had been submitted "by my support team on my behalf," and called it "a human error and certainly not deliberate."

In his submission to the federal circuit court, Djokovic says he was granted a temporary visa to enter Australia on November 18.

He had also received a letter from the chief medical officer of Tennis Australia on December 30 saying Djokovic had a “medical exemption from Covid vaccination” because he had recently recovered from the virus.

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.