Novak Djokovic becomes entangled in contradictions

The world number 1 in tennis is getting entangled more and more in contradictions around the quarrels when entering Australia.

Novak Djokovic trains on the facility in Melbourne – but is he even allowed to compete in the Rod Laver Arena?

Patrick Hamilton / Imago

Novak Djokovic is considered the master of unleashing on the tennis court. Against Roger Federer alone, he won three games after having had to fend off two match points – most recently in the Wimbledon final in 2019. The memory of it should still hurt the Swiss today.

But in the drama surrounding his entry to Australia, the 34-year-old Serb is becoming increasingly entangled in contradictions. On Wednesday, five days before the start of the tournament, it was still unclear whether he would be able to participate in the Australian Open. The office of the minister responsible for immigration, Alex Hawke, is still checking whether Djokovic has obtained the exemption permit to enter the country as an unvaccinated person with false and incomplete information.

Two sticking points

The focus of the investigation is a false information in the entry form and the timing of the positive Covid test from December 16, which was the basis for Djokovic’s special permit. On the entry form, Djokovic ticked that he had not left his Serbian homeland in the 14 days before his trip to Melbourne. Entries in his social networks prove that he trained on December 31st and January 2nd in the Spanish city of Marbella. From there he flew to Melbourne via Dubai.

Djokovic justified the false statement with an error. More serious, however, are the inconsistencies around the positive Covid test. In the days that followed, he appeared several times in public without a mask. Once when honoring young Serbian athletes, once more during a photo shoot with the French sports newspaper «L’Equipe».

On Wednesday Djokovic said that after the positive Covid test, he canceled all commitments except for the interview. Except for the photo shoot, he paid attention to social distancing and wore a mask. But: After he came home after the interview, he immediately realized that he had made a mistake – “I should have postponed my commitment.”

Even Serbia’s prime minister is critical

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic told Reuters on Tuesday that if Djokovic actually attended an event after testing positive for the corona virus, it would be a clear violation of quarantine rules.

In the meantime, however, the authenticity of the positive corona test is also heavily doubted. The German news magazine “Spiegel” scanned the QR code the certificate from the court filings of the hearing on Monday, at which the cancellation of Djokovic’s entry permit was reversed.

The journalist Steffen Lüdke writes on Twitter: “Der Spiegel scanned the QR code on Monday afternoon at 1:19 p.m. (CET). A result appears: ‹Test result negative›. This would mean that the basis for Djokovic’s entry would no longer apply. Around an hour later, at 2:33 p.m. on Monday, a new scan of the QR code suddenly showed a different result: ‘Test result positive’. “

At least as confusing is the “timestamp”, which is generated automatically. The German IT expert group «Zerforschung», together with «Spiegel», examined the documents with the «Timestamp» in more detail. The so-called Unix timestamp is a standard in which the seconds have been counted at midnight since January 1st, 1970.

In the case of a positive PCR test result, which is said to come from December 16, the “timestamp” shows the value 1640524880. That would not correspond to December 16, as stated by Djokovic, but to December 26. It is also confusing that the ID of the positive test (7,371,999) is higher than that of the negative (7,320,919). This suggests that the positive was evaluated after the negative test.

Damage to image is getting bigger and bigger for Djokovic

If Djokovic’s positive corona test was not from December 16, but from December 26, that would explain his carefree behavior in public. At the same time, the test, which forms the basis for his special status when entering the country as an unvaccinated person, would falter. This information is also available to the Australian authorities and is likely to be the reason why their decision on whether to recognize Djokovic’s visa is dragging on.

Djokovic himself wrote on Instagram on Wednesday that the misinformation had to be clarified as soon as possible in the interests of the authorities, but also of his family. The affair of the Serbian world number 1 is unlikely to be over yet. The damage to the image that Djokovic is suffering these days is getting bigger and bigger.

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