French journalist breaks silence on controversial Covid interview with Novak Djokovic

By Liam Llewellyn

A French journalist who interviewed Novak Djokovic last month claims he was unaware of the world No 1's positive Covid test.

It has emerged that the Serb tested positive for covid-19 on December 16, and was seen posing for pictures with children the following day, although he claims he was not aware of his positive test at that time.

Furthermore, the world number one took part in an interview with French media outlet L’Equipe on December 18, and admitted he knew he had the virus on that day.

The journalist who conducted the interview, Franck Ramella, said he did not learn of Djokovic ’s positive Covid test until the star was detained at Melbourne Airport last week.

Ramella said that he himself tested negative this week before flying to Australia to cover the tournament.

Djokovic is at the centre of a huge visa row in Australia (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Ramella gave his account of his interview with the 20-time Grand Slam champion on December 18, in which Djokovic posed for photos without a mask.

He wrote in L'Equipe: "We arrived at the interview. The instructions had been clear: no questions on vaccinations and the intentions of the Serb over the Australian Open.

"Very delicate subjects, if you still doubt it. We did not think about asking him if he had thought about getting a test. And if yes, what was the result.

"During 33 minutes, according to the timer, Djokovic responded to the questions with conviction. Both of us were protected, opposite each other at a distance of about one metre on either side of a long rectangular table. Asked by Etienne to take off his mask for five minutes during the interview, Djokovic refused."

Earlier today the world number one released a statement admitting he attended the interview despite knowing he contracted the virus in an attempt to honour his commitment, and realises he should have rescheduled.

He wrote: “While I went home after the interview to isolate for the required period, on reflection, this was an error of judgment and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment.”

Djokovic blamed his agent’s error for an “administrative mistake” after claiming he had not travelled in the two weeks before his flight to Australia.

It has since emerged he was in Belgrade less than two weeks before his flight from Spain to Australia on January 4.

Djokovic is training for the Australian Open despite not knowing for sure if he will be able to play (Getty Images)

He added: “My agent sincerely apologises for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box about my previous travel before coming to Australia. This was a human error and certainly not deliberate.”

While he is currently a free man, Djokovic’s visa hangs by a thread with Australia’s immigration minister, Alex Hawke, still considering whether or not to deport the nine-time Australian Open champion.

According to a 9news Melbourne reporter Reid Butler, a deportation decision is expected on Thursday.

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