Djokovic Attended Event With Young Tennis Players – Unmasked – A Day After Positive Covid Test


Novak Djokovic, the top-ranked men’s tennis player, attended an event with young tennis players in Serbia on December 17, a day after he tested positive for Covid-19, it came to light Saturday following court filings by his lawyers in Australia showing that he used the infection as grounds to apply for an exemption to the country’s vaccination rules to enter to play at the Australian Open.

Key Facts

The Belgrade Tennis Federation posted a series of photos on Facebook of Djokovic posing maskless with young tennis players after he handed out awards at an event December 17, the AFP reported.

Djokovic also posted photos on Twitter showing him unmasked at an event organized by the Serbian national postal service to celebrate the launch of stamps featuring the tennis champion on December 16.

December 16 is the day he found out he tested positive for Covid, according to court documents, though it was not immediately clear if he knew of the test result before attending the event.

Key Background

Djokovic’s lawyers said in court documents Saturday that Tennis Australia granted him a vaccine exemption on the grounds of his December Covid infection. A PCR-confirmed case and an “acute medical condition” are two valid medical exemptions, according to guidelines from an advisory panel to the Australian government. Djokovic’s lawyers said the Serbian tennis player “had not had a fever or respiratory symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 72 hours” by December 30, Reuters reported. They added, he received approval from Australia’s Home Affairs on January 1 that he fulfilled the requirements for “a quarantine-free arrival into Australia.” However, he was refused entry into the country on Wednesday after he failed to provide sufficient evidence about his vaccine exemption, according to the Australian Border Force. The state of Victoria, where the Australian Open will be held, gave the 34-year-old player a medical exemption, but the federal government denied him entry. The court filing said Djokovic expressed “shock, “surprise” and “confusion” when he was held at the airport for about 12 hours. 

What To Watch For

Djokovic will fight his visa cancellation in court on Monday. Djokovic had requested to be relocated to a place with a tennis court to prepare for the tournament, but was turned down, according to the court filing. He is staying at a hotel for detained asylum seekers in Melbourne. Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said gluten-free food, exercise gear and a sim card had been given to Djokovic, Reuters reported. He has won the Australian Open singles nine times, and this year’s tournament offers him the chance to break his tie with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer for the most Grand Slam titles at 20.

Further Reading

Djokovic attended Belgrade event 24 hours after positive Covid test (AFP)

Djokovic Thanks Fans For ‘Continuous Support’ Amid Vaccine Exemption Saga As Australia Detains Another Tennis Player (Forbes)