The Slatest

Photos Show Djokovic Was Maskless at Public Event One Day After Positive COVID Test

Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates at the end of his men's singles semi-final tennis match between Croatia and Serbia of the Davis Cup tennis tournament at the Madrid arena in Madrid on December 3, 2021.
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates at the end of his men’s singles semi-final tennis match between Croatia and Serbia of the Davis Cup tennis tournament at the Madrid arena in Madrid on December 3, 2021. OSCAR DEL POZO/Getty Images

There is now more controversy surrounding tennis star Novak Djokovic after he publicly acknowledged he contracted COVID-19 for a second time as part of his legal challenge to being refused entry into Australia. The tennis superstar is claiming he had been granted a medical exemption from being vaccinated against COVID-19 because he had tested positive for the virus last month and recovered. But shortly after the claim was made public, many on social media pointed out that photos published on Djokovic’s own Twitter account showed he appeared at a public event a day after his positive COVID-19 test was recorded.

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The No. 1-ranked Djokovic was not allowed to enter Australia late Wednesday after officials said he didn’t meet the country’s requirement that all visitors be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. In a court filing Saturday that comes ahead of a hearing on Monday, Djokovic said he had been granted an exemption by Tennis Australia because of his positive test on Dec. 16 “and that he had not had a fever or respiratory symptoms in the past 72 hours.”

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Photos published on social media show the 34-year-old Serbian player attended an event in Belgrade on Dec. 17 to honor young tennis players. Photos show Djokovic was around lots of children not wearing masks. It’s unclear whether he knew the results of his test at the time. Djokovic tested positive shortly after attending a Euroleague basketball game on Dec. 14 and he interacted with several players that later tested positive.

Djokovic, who has publicly opposed vaccine mandates and has spoken skeptically about the COVID-19 vaccine, had previously said he and his wife tested positive for the coronavirus in June 2020. His infection last month had not previously been revealed but is now the key piece of information his lawyers are putting forward to argue that he should be allowed to participate in the Australian Open as the defending champion. The 34-year-old Serbian player is now in detention in a hotel in Melbourne that houses refugees and asylum seekers.

The tennis star’s lawyers say he was granted an exemption that was backed by the Victoria state government. And the court filing claims he received confirmation from Australia’s Department of Home Affairs saying he met the requirements to arrive in Australia without having to go into quarantine. But it seems federal border authorities found that exemption to not be valid.

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