The date of a positive COVID test that Novak Djokovic used to enter Australia has been called into question by a BBC investigation which analyzed the serial numbers of test results he submitted to the Federal Court.
- The BBC analyzed 56 COVID tests from Serbia, finding that the two test results submitted by Djokovic were not in order
- His findings suggest Djokovic’s positive test may have happened between December 25 and 28
- Djokovic’s initial medical exemption was granted on the grounds that he tested positive on December 16
The world number one tennis player was deported earlier this month after the Federal Court rejected his bid to overturn a federal government decision to revoke his visa.
Djokovic’s initial medical exemption was granted on the basis that he tested positive on December 16, 2021.
Among the documents Djokovic’s attorneys filed with the federal court were two COVID-19 tests — one that said he tested positive on Dec. 16, 2021, and another that showed he had tested negative on December 22, 2021.
The documents submitted to the Federal Court included a confirmation from the acting director of Serbia’s health body confirming the correctness of the dates on the certificates.
However, the BBC investigation revealed that Djokovic’s two tests were out of order, as the serial number of the last test (7320919) was lower than that of the previous test (7371999).
Looking at 56 COVID-19 tests they had collected in Serbia, the BBC found that all the codes were in the same chronological order, except for Djokovic’s positive test on December 16.
According to their analysis, the serial number of Djokovic’s positive test corresponded chronologically between the December 25 and December 28 tests. The BBC said this suggested his positive test result may have occurred between those two dates.
The BBC said it had communicated its findings to Serbian government officials on several occasions, but had not received a response.
Djokovic’s team hadn’t responded to interview requests either.
In an attempt to explain the code discrepancies, an expert approached by the BBC said it may have been the result of a technical glitch. But he said he didn’t know why state authorities wouldn’t give such a reason.
The possibility that different laboratories have different lot numbers has also been suggested. But subsequent test results processed at the same lab as Djokovic’s positive test were found to have lower confirmation codes.
Djokovic was pictured attending public events without a mask on December 16, when documents say he tested positive. Djokovic arrived in Australia on January 5.
Djokovic risks missing Roland-Garros
Djokovic is at risk of missing the French Open after France tightened its vaccination rules for sporting events.
From February 15, anyone not vaccinated against the coronavirus will have to present proof that they have tested positive for COVID-19 in the previous four months – down from the current six-month window – in order to enter sports venues in France.
The French law is at the heart of the government’s plan to fight the virus and aims to ban unvaccinated people from entering stadiums, restaurants, bars and other public places.
Under current rules with a six-month window, Djokovic could play at Roland Garros, which starts on May 22.
But if the new requirements remain in place until then, they are likely to rule him out unless he is vaccinated or tests positive again within four months of the start of the Grand Slam on clay. .
Djokovic, the highest ranked, is the defending champion in Paris.
French Open organizers previously said it was too early to comment as virus restrictions may change by May depending on the situation.