Novak Djokovic kept Covid infection secret and banned vax questions in interview

Novak Djokovic slammed by 7News hosts in leaked video

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The French journalist who interviewed Novak Djokovic for L’Equipe after the world No 1 had knowingly tested positive for Covid claimed he wasn’t informed of Djokovic’s infection. The Serb took a PCR test on December 16 and later found out he was positive, admitting he broke isolation rules by attending the interview.

Djokovic travelled to Melbourne last week with a medical exemption to compete in the Australian Open on the basis that he had recovered from a Covid infection in the last six months.

While the exemption was granted by Tennis Australia, the federal government cancelled his visa upon arrival as they said prior infection is not grounds for foreign nationals to be exempt from vaccination.

The world No 1 appealed the decision, and court documents revealed that he had taken a PCR test on December 16, returning a positive result later that evening.

But in a statement released on Wednesday, Djokovic said he was not notified of the positive result until December 17 – after attending a children’s tennis event and presenting awards to the youngsters while not wearing a mask.

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“I was asymptomatic and felt good, and I had not received the notification of a positive PCR test result until after that event,” the 20-time Grand Slam champion wrote.

However, he admitted to breaking isolation rules by attending an interview for L’Equipe the following day, saying: “The next day, on Dec 18 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 I did ensure I socially distanced and wore a mask except when my photograph was being taken.”

Now, the journalist who interviewed Djokovic on December 18 has claimed he was never informed of the world No 1’s positive test, and only found out when the Serb was detained at Melbourne Airport when first arriving with his medical exemption.

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In a new L’Equipe article published by Franck Ramella, the French journalist said he only learned of Djokovic’s Covid diagnosis until three weeks after conducting the interview, and admitted that there were strict rules surrounding questions on the vaccine and his Australian Open participation.

Ramella’s account of the interview for L’Equipe read:”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.”

Ramella and the team travelled to Serbia to award Djokovic with L’Equpre’s “Champion of Champions” award for the year, and said that the 20-time Major winner was “posing and screaming” during the maskless trophy photoshoot, but wore a face mask for the interview and refused to take it off when asked if the photographer could get some shots of the interview.

Ramella also said he had recently tested negative before departing for Australia, writing: “Yesterday I took the test before flying to Australia. Negative.”

It was revealed on Wednesday that the Department for Home Affairs in Australia, who were already investigating Djokovic, would now be taking his actions into consideration as part of the probe.

With Immigration Minister Alex Hawke yet to make a decision on whether to cancel Djokovic’s visa for a second time, the Home Affairs department is separately investigating the tennis star.

The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age confirmed their probe has been widened to include his breach of Covid isolation rules in Serbia, inconsistencies on the date he claims he received his positive test result, and incorrect statements on his Australian Travel Declaration form.

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