A JOURNALIST who interviewed Novak Djokovic said he did not know the tennis star was positive about Covid and claimed he should not ask about his vaccine status.
The tennis star tested positive for Covid on December 16 and then got an interview with the French media L’Equipe on December 18 – when he knew he had the virus.
The Serb is not vaccinated for Covid-19 and was denied entry into Australia last week despite obtaining a dispensation against jab.
He is waiting to find out if he can compete in this year’s Australian Open after winning an appeal to stay in the country.
But Franck Ramella, the journalist who conducted the interview in December, has now said he did not know about Djokovic’s positive Covid test until he was detained at Melbourne Airport.
Ramella said he himself tested negative this week before flying to Australia to cover the tournament.
He wrote in L’Equipe: “We arrived at the interview. The instructions had been clear: no questions about vaccinations and the Serb’s intentions over the Australian Open.
“Very delicate subjects, if one still doubts it. We did not think to ask him if he had thought of taking a test.
“And if so, what was the result.
“In 33 minutes, according to the timer, Djokovic answered the questions with conviction.
“We were both protected, facing each other at a distance of about a meter on each side of a long rectangular table.
“Asked by Etienne to take off his mask for five minutes during the interview, Djokovic refused.”
Earlier today, world number one issued a statement admitting that he participated in the interview despite knowing he contracted the virus in an attempt to honor his “obligation”.
He wrote: “While I went home after the interview to isolate myself for the required period, this was on reflection a misjudgment, and I accept that I should have rearranged this commitment.”
Djokovic accused his agent’s mistake of an “administrative mistake” after claiming he had not traveled in the two weeks before his flight to Australia.
But it has since turned out that he was in Belgrade less than two weeks before his flight from Spain to Australia on January 4.
He added: “My agent sincerely apologizes for the administrative error by ticking the wrong box about my previous trip before coming to Australia.
“This was a human error and certainly not deliberate.”
A former top official has warned that he could now be arrested on the tennis court by armed officers if his visa is removed.
Djokovic’s new expulsion risk comes as a minister considers whether to revoke his visa again after it was reinstated by a judge.
Anti-waxxer returned to training in Melbourne on Monday hours after being released from detention after winning his visa fight.
But despite a judge ruling that the decision to cancel his visa was “unreasonable”, the tennis player could still be sent out of the country by the Australian government.
This happens when the nine-time Serbian winner Down Under got his marching orders after a six-hour stand-off at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport.
As the 34-year-old star tried to enter Australian territory, he was ordered into a side room by Border Police guards after a visa “blunder” was revealed.
He had originally been granted a vaccine exemption – his lawyers said because he incurred Covid-19 in December – to compete before his visa was dramatically revoked.
Even the Serbian president, Aleksandar Vucic, became involved and eventually contacted Djokovic to offer his support and backing and summoned Australia’s ambassador to the country for a dressing down.
But that did not help, and Djokovic was told that his visa – when he was exempted from playing despite his unvaccinated status – had been canceled.
His legal team claimed he only agreed to the cancellation because he was disoriented due to lack of sleep, and left him due to the official’s “procedurally unfair” treatment.
Legal documents allege that Australian officials made “malicious and false” attempts to rush him to sign the cancellation.
He was then detained, despite asking to be moved to more extensive excavations with a tennis court or to have his private chef deliver vegan meals – requests that were denied.