Novak facing fresh scrutiny after claims over validity of ‘strange’ Covid results – Fox Sports


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World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is facing fresh questions over the validity of his positive Covid test result that allowed him into Australia following a bombshell report from a German news outlet.

Djokovic relied on that positive test result, issued by the Institute of Public Health of Serbia, to show Border Force officials he had grounds for an exemption to enter the country without a Covid vaccination under conditions set out by the Australian Government.

Documents, which were released by the Federal Circuit Court on Monday after a judge overturned the Australian government’s decision to cancel the Serb’s visa, read that Djokovic tested positive to the virus from a December 16 sample, with a negative result coming on December 22.

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Der Spiegel, a German newspaper, scanned the QR code linked to Djokovic’s digital test results from December 16 and found a “test result Negative” attached in the Serbian system.

Just an hour later, however, when journalists from Der Spiegel checked the same QR code again, it read as positive.

Senior tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg also scanned the QR code on Tuesday, claiming he’d received “a mix of positive/negative results” over Djokovic’s December 16 test.

Robert Potter, co-chief executive of cyber security firm Internet 2.0, confirmed to The Age and Sydney Morning Herald there were inconsistencies between the documentation timestamps the URL linked to the QR code on one of Djokovic’s tests.

“I can’t interpret the medical implications but I’d say there is sufficient evidence to question the fidelity of his paperwork submitted to the Australian government relating to his positive test,” Potter told Nine Newspapers.

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“The time stamp contained within the QR code of his positive test does not match the paperwork as submitted. However, the timestamp of his negative test does match his submitted paperwork. As long as you are confident that the QR codes you have sent me for evaluation match those submitted to the Australian government, then I’m confident saying that Djokovic has legitimate questions to answer.”

Der Spiegel also investigated the digital reference numbers of the initial positive test result and a follow up test on December 26 – the latter revealing a negative result, which Djokovic used to show the Australian government he had recovered from the virus.

The test timestamped 1.05pm on December 16 was issued a reference number of 7371999, but the follow-up test at 2.21pm on December 26 had a number 50,000 spots lower. Der Spiegel reported this would indicate the test was recorded before the first “positive” result on December 16.

But data journalists told the Herald Sun the URL numbers the German publication based its claim on showed the time the link was opened, rather than when the test results were uploaded.

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Still, The Age and SMH reported the Australian government was aware of the inconsistencies.

A statement on behalf of Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, who has personal power to re-cancel Djokovic’s visa on public health grounds, indicated a call wouldn’t be made on Wednesday, but acknowledged the Serb’s legal team had submitted more details.

“Mr Djokovic’s lawyers have recently provided lengthy further submissions and supporting documentation said to be relevant to the possible cancellation,” a spokesperson said.

“Naturally, this will affect the timeframe for a decision.”

Djokovic released a statement on Wednesday, but didn’t directly address the document and QR code discrepancies.

Instead, Djokovic moved to clarify reports he mixed with the public in Serbia without a mask despite knowing he’d tested positive to Covid, claiming he didn’t receive confirmation about his positive PCR test result until after he’d attended a tennis event in Belgrade, where he presented awards to children.

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However Djokovic did admit to one “error in judgment” in which he knowingly broke isolation to conduct an interview with French newspaper L’Equipe.

Djokovic also blamed “human error” for a faulty entry declaration, as a box on his form had been incorrectly ticked. He declared he hadn’t travelled within 14 days of arriving in Australia – even though he’d been in both Serbia and Spain.

“On the issue of travel declaration, this was submitted by my support team on my behalf – as I told immigration officials on my arrival – and my agent sincerely apologises for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box about my previous travel before coming to Australia,” Djokovic said via an Instagram statement.

“This was a human error and certainly not deliberate. We are living in challenging times in a global pandemic and sometimes these mistakes can occur. Today, my team has provided additional information to the Australian Government to clarify this matter.”

— with Staff Writers

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