Novak Djokovic has admitted breaching isolation rules after testing positive for Covid-19 last month, describing it as an “error of judgement”.
In an Instagram post on Wednesday, the Serbian admitted meeting a journalist for an interview two days after he tested positive on 16 December.
“I accept that I should have rescheduled,” he wrote.
His activity has been scrutinised as the Australian government considers whether to deport him.
In the post, he also blamed his agent for making a mistake on the travel form he used to enter Australia. His comments have prompted a new investigation from officials.
Djokovic, who is unvaccinated, is hoping to defend his Australian Open title next week. He had his visa revoked on 6 January shortly after he arrived in the country amid questions over the vaccine exemption that would have permitted him to enter.
On Monday, however, a judge dramatically overturned the decision and ordered the release of the player from detention.
But the government has not ruled out further action – and the possibility remains that the country’s immigration minister could cancel his visa for a second time just days before the tournament begins.
“I felt obliged to go ahead and conduct the L’Equipe interview as I didn’t want to let the journalist down,” Djokovic wrote in the Instagram post. “[I ensured] I socially distanced and wore a mask except when my photograph was being taken.”
L’Equipe confirmed in an article that the tennis star wore a mask the entire time, even when their reporter asked him to take it off for five minutes. The journalist, Franck Ramella, said that he had been told not to ask Djokovic about his vaccination status or the upcoming Australian Open so “therefore did not ask if he had considered doing a test”.
“Even if we did ask, what would be the point?” Mr Ramella wrote.
He said other reports about him appearing in public following his positive test on 16 December were “misinformation”.
Djokovic, meanwhile, also admitted making a false declaration on his travel form prior to entering Australia.
He said his agent had made a mistake when filling in a section of the form that covered his recent travel history. The form stated that he had not travelled in the 14 days before his arrival in Australia.
But recent reports suggest the 34-year-old had travelled to Serbia and then to Spain prior to the trip.
“My agent sincerely apologises for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box,” he wrote. “This was a human error and certainly not deliberate.”
“My team has provided additional information to the Australian government to clarify this matter,” he added.
Australia’s Border Force, the nation’s immigration officials, said on Tuesday they were investigating whether he had made a “false declaration” – which would be grounds for a visa cancellation.
This year’s Australian Open begins on 17 January and if Djokovic wins, he will become the most successful men’s player in history.
The men’s professional tennis tour has called for more clarity of the rules to enter Australia and urged players to get vaccinated.
“The series of events leading to Monday’s court hearing have been damaging on all fronts, including for Novak’s well-being and preparation for the Australian Open,” the ATP said.