Tennis star Novak Djokovic was pictured meeting and greeting fans and attending an awards ceremony in the days after his legal team claim he tested positive for Covid.
Djokovic’s lawyers say the world number one had a vaccine exemption to enter Australia and compete in this month’s Australian Open after contracting the virus in December.
In court documents supplied as part of Djokovic’s deportation appeal, it was stated that a PRC test confirmed the player tested positive on December 16.
But questions have been raised about the authenticity of Djokovic’s positive result after multiple pictures taken around and after that date emerged showing the 34-year-old mixing as normal in his native Serbia.
Djokovic, the defending Australian Open champion, was not seen wearing a mask during a ceremony at the Novak Tennis Centre in Belgrade, which reportedly took place on December 17.
Djokovic was also seen hugging children at his tennis centre in Dorcol, Serbia after speaking at an event for his foundation.
It is not known whether Djokovic knew he had Covid-19 when the photographs were taken.
Djokovic, widely regarded as one of the best players in history with 20 Grand Slam titles, was placed in a detention hotel in Melbourne after being refused entry to Australia earlier this week.
The Serbian star, who has said he is opposed to vaccination, had been granted a medical exemption to play in the Australian Open.
But problems with his visa saw the Australian Border Force deny Djokovic entry, with ABF officials saying the player ‘failed to provide appropriate evidence’ as prior infection was not a valid reason to travel without a vaccination.
Djokovic’s medical exemption caused much controversy in Australia, where 90% of the adult population are fully vaccinated and many people are still unable to travel between states due to Covid restrictions.
But Serbia’s president Aleksandar Vucic has accused Australia of ‘maltreatment’ of Djokovic, while the player’s team have slammed the conditions of his detention facilities.
‘I told our Novak that the whole of Serbia is with him and that our bodies are doing everything to see that the harassment of the world’s best tennis player is brought to an end immediately,’ My Vucic said in a statement.
Djokovic’s mother Dijana added on Thursday: ‘I spoke with him a couple of hours ago, he was good, we didn’t speak a lot but we spoke for a few minutes. He was trying to sleep, but he couldn’t.
‘As a mother, what can I say, you can just imagine how I feel, I feel terrible since yesterday, the last 24 hours.
‘They are keeping him like a prisoner, it’s just not fair, it’s not human. I hope he will stay strong as we are also trying, to give him some energy to keep going. I hope he will win.
‘His accommodation [is] terrible. It’s just some small, immigration hotel, if it is a hotel at all. With bugs, it’s all dirty, the food is terrible. They don’t want to give him a chance to move to a better hotel or a rented house.’
The Australian Open starts on January 17 in Melbourne. Djokovic has won the tournament a record nine times.
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