MELBOURNE, Australia — Novak Djokovic says he knew he'd tested positive for COVID-19 when he attended a newspaper interview and photo shoot in Serbia last month.
Djokovic acknowledged in a statement posted to social media Wednesday that he made an "error of judgment" and should have immediately gone into isolation. He also blamed "human error" by his support team for failing to declare that he had traveled in the two-week period before entering Australia.
In a statement posted to Instagram Wednesday, Djokovic said that he attended a basketball game in Belgrade, Serbia, on Dec. 14. He says he took two COVID-19 tests two days later — an antigen test and a more accurate PCR test. He said he was asymptomatic when he took the tests.
While the antigen test returned a negative result, the PCR test came back positive on Dec. 17. By that point, Djokovic said he had already attended a children's awards ceremony.
However, despite knowledge of the positive test, Djokovic still left isolation on Dec. 18 to conduct an interview and photo shoot with the French newspaper L'Equipe. Djokovic said he tried to socially distance himself and said he wore a mask, except when being photographed.
Djokovic's statement comes as his status for the upcoming Australian Open remains in doubt.
Upon arrival in Australia last week, his visa was canceled, and he was held in detention in a Melbourne hotel over the weekend.
Djokovic is not vaccinated against COVID-19, and his stance questioning vaccines and mandates requiring them is well documented. Australia requires all travelers coming into the country to be vaccinated.
On Monday, Djokovic's visa was reinstated by the courts. In the ruling, a judge noted that Tennis Australia had granted Djokovic a medical exemption because he had recently tested positive for COVID-19.
However, a government lawyer told the judge that the immigration minister might still use his personal power to cancel the visa. That would mean that the world's top-ranked tennis star could again face deportation.
Djokovic hopes to defend his title at the Australian Open and win a men's record 21st Grand Slam singles title. He won three of the four Grand Slam titles in 2021 before being upset by Daniil Medvedev in the U.S. Open final in the fall.
Djokovic has been outspoken in his opposition to the COVID-19 vaccine and vaccinations in general. According to the BBC, in April 2020, Djokovic told fans that he was "opposed to vaccination." The outlet also reports that he's pushed dubious scientific claims throughout his career.