Novak Djokovic's family abruptly ended a press conference when asked whether the tennis star knowingly mingled with children without a mask at an event the day after he tested positive for Covid-19.
The decision to cancel Djokovic's visa was overturned in the Federal Circuit Court on Monday and he plans to play in the Australian Open starting next week. However, the federal government says it is still considering whether to cancel his visa, saying it has the power to do so despite the court ruling in the Serbian's favour.
Djokovic, who is unvaccinated, received a medical exemption to compete in the year's first grand slam but when he touched down in Melbourne last week, was told by the Australian Border Force he had insufficient evidence to prove his exemption was justified.
Djokovic was kept in a Melbourne hotel until the end of Monday's hearing, when he was released from detention.
Djokovic's exemption was based on his and Tennis Australia's belief that having contracted Covid-19 in the past six months was a valid reason to not be vaccinated. Court documents released after the hearing reveal the 20-time grand slam champion was swabbed at 1.05pm on December 16 and received a positive result at 8.19pm.
Novak Djokovic of Serbia. Photo / Getty Images.
That revelation has sparked burning questions about Djokovic's behaviour after he knew he was infected with the virus.
On December 16, Djokovic received a commemorative stamp in his honour at an event hosted by the Serbian National Postal Service. The tennis star later shared photos of the event on social media.
Djokovic also reportedly attended an awards ceremony at the Novak Tennis Centre in Belgrade on December 17. Multiple photos on social media show the 34-year-old posing for photos with children without wearing a mask.
French newspaper L'Équipe revealed Djokovic posed without a mask during a photo shoot on December 18.
An honor to receive my very own Serbian stamp. Thank you to my generous country for this rare gift! I’m humbled!! Excited to share we’ll partner with the Serbian National Postal Service on @novakfoundation projects for every child to have the opportunity to attend preschool 🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/Ww8Zma95NU
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) December 17, 2021
Court documents reveal Djokovic knew he was Covid-positive on December 16, leading people to ask why he would attend social functions – especially with children and without a mask – knowing he was at risk of spreading the virus.
His family members – father Srdjan, mother Dijana and brother Djordje – were asked about that matter at a press conference in Belgrade overnight. A reporter said: "Was he at an event on the 17th of December in Belgrade?"
Djordje gave a wry smile and shut the press conference down. "So, ah, this press conference is adjourned at the moment," he said.
One major question for Novak Djokovic at the moment is regarding his movements after testing positive on 16 December. Someone asked his family if "he was at an event on the 17th of December". This was the response: pic.twitter.com/ypIxquMHUG
— James Gray (@jamesgraysport) January 10, 2022
There were plenty of people critical of Djokovic once it became clear he knew he was positive on December 16.
Sports journalist Todd Balym tweeted: "Court documents show Novak Djokovic got his positive Covid test results shortly after 8pm on Dec 16 – so he knew he was Covid positive visiting kids & others the next 2 days. Court might've cleared him today, but public opinion will judge him as a selfish maskhole."
Boxing presenter Ben Damon wrote: "That's horrific."
Sports journalist Michael Hincks said: "How do Novak Djokovic fans explain/defend his Dec 17 and 18 actions at a ceremony with children and interview with L'Equipe if he recorded a positive PCR test on Dec 16?"
BBC presenter Adil Ray added: "Djokovic got Covid then apparently carried on as normal, hugging children. Unless his team can explain that, he should not be allowed to play tennis in a country where borders have been closed and families kept apart. He is not an exception."
New Zealand cricket star Jimmy Neesham tweeted: "If this is true … absolutely disgraceful."