Djokovic Covid infection leads to conspiracy theories

The top tennis star’s positive test for Covid-19 came after a medical exemption deadline set by organizers and did not stop him appearing in public, skeptics have claimed

Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open legal appeal has copped fresh cynicism after it emerged that his December infection came after an exemption cut-off, while footage has purportedly shown him at public events after testing positive.

Saturday’s disclosure by Djokovic’s legal team, which indicated that a December 16 diagnosis of Covid-19 was central to his medical exemption application to compete at the Australian Open from January 17, has come under further scrutiny amid evidence that his infection came after a December 10 deadline imposed by Tennis Australia which would see exemption requests arbitrated by an independent medical panel.

Djokovic was detained by Australian Border Force officials shortly after landing in Melbourne on Tuesday, when it was determined that his exemption didn’t meet federal criteria. He is currently in a detention hotel awaiting a Monday appeal hearing to decide if he is to be deported.

“Whether or not you use an independent panel or your own Australian doctor, all medical exemptions must meet the [Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation] guidelines,” information distributed to players in December reads.

December 16 was a busy day for Djokovic:

In addition to purportedly getting a PCR test for Covid that came back positive, Djokovic also was part of a maskless, indoor panel discussion and attended a maskless, indoor ceremony for a stamp being made in his honor on that day. pic.twitter.com/rI9j0rsPJr

— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 8, 2022

There’s more:

On December 17th, the day *after* Djokovic’s purported positive PCR test on December 16th, Djokovic attended an award ceremony for children at the Novak Tennis Center.

Many posts from the kids there posing for pictures with him that day, again masklessly indoors. pic.twitter.com/2ecOSwA7lU

— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 8, 2022

…but this all also begs the question: around December 16, with only a month left until the #AusOpen began, what was Djokovic planning to do if he *didn’t* get a positive test for Covid?

Was that somehow his plan for getting into the #AusOpen? Contracting a disease? Truly odd.

— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 8, 2022

“Accordingly, we reiterate that the easiest way to ensure access to Melbourne Park for the Australian Open is to be fully vaccinated.

“If you wish to have your medical exemption reviewed by the independent panel, you will need to forward your application and supporting documentation… urgently and no later than Friday 10 December 2021.”

Legal papers filed by Djokovic indicate that he would have missed that deadline by at least six days, though it remains unclear whether he received a test on December 16 or was notified of positive test results on that date. 

And here is a video of Djokovic, eight days later (on December 25th), playing tennis with kids in the streets of Belgrade. pic.twitter.com/WDRJBWwyCe

— Gaspar Ribeiro Lança (@gasparlanca) January 8, 2022

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

That has led to speculation online over how Djokovic could have planned to compete in the first Grand Slam of 2022 had he not been diagnosed with Covid-19 last month.

Further questions have been raised about his December infection after he was said to have been seen going maskless at two public indoor events on the day he is thought to have tested positive for the potentially fatal virus.

The first was a panel discussion and another was a ceremony to celebrate a stamp bearing his image being released.

Djokovic’s story seems to be changing all the time

— PaulTee (@padubyatee) January 8, 2022

So basically he either conducted himself poorly after being positive or he’s lying…great player but…even if you explain the being out during covid you can’t explain how he applied for exemption when the deadline was earlier 🤦‍♀️

— Beena Dagar (@BeenaDagar) January 8, 2022

And based on his timeline on December 15 he must have given up all hope on playing in the @AustralianOpen … I mean a month out from the tournament was he literally just banking on getting Covid so he could play??? This all seems too much of a coincidence

— Jase (@jjlo07) January 8, 2022

A day later, on December 17, he attended another indoor event – this time an award ceremony for children at his Novak Djokovic Tennis Center in Belgrade. Once again, attendees do not appear to have worn masks.

Eight days after his positive test, on December 25, Djokovic was filmed playing tennis with children on the streets of the Serbian capital.

“This all also begs the question: around December 16, with only a month left until the Australian Open began, what was Djokovic planning to do if he *didn’t* get a positive test for Covid?” asked Tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg online.

Novak Djokovic tested positive for covid-19 on December 16, the day he attended a maskless ceremony for the launch of a stamp in his honor — and after being in attendance for KK Crvena Zvezda’s Euroleague basketball match in the previous night: pic.twitter.com/cKAo8GnC6e

— Gaspar Ribeiro Lança (@gasparlanca) January 8, 2022

“Was that somehow his plan for getting into the Australian Open? Contracting a disease? Truly odd.”

That opinion was matched by several incredulous fans. “Djokovic’s story seems to be changing all the time,” remarked one.

“So basically he either conducted himself poorly after being positive or he’s lying,” said another.

Great player but… even if you explain being [outside while having] Covid, you can’t explain how he applied for exemption when the deadline was earlier.”

Another added: “Based on his timeline, on December 15 he must have given up all hope of playing in the Australian Open.

“I mean, a month out from the tournament was he literally just banking on getting Covid so he could play? This all seems too much of a coincidence.”

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