Timeline: The Novak Djokovic visa row that has erupted into one of sport’s messiest scandals


December 17

The Serbian is pictured attending an awards ceremony at the Novak Tennis Center, still in Belgrade, where he presents trophies to several young tennis players while not wearing a mask. Afterwards, according to a social media post published by the athlete on Jan 12 2022, Djokovic learns he has Covid.

December 18

In a photoshoot held by French publication L’Equipe for their Champions of Champions award, Djokovic is pictured maskless as he poses with the trophy. He also takes part in a one-on-one interview where he does wear a mask and declines a request to remove it for photographs to be taken, though L’Equipe reports he at no point made them aware that he had tested positive for Covid.

December 22

Djokovic returns a negative Covid PCR test at around 4:15pm. Although Serbian Covid regulations instruct those who test positive to isolate within 14 days, this can be ended by a negative test.

December 25

He appears in a video playing tennis with a fan on the streets of Belgrade, and is pictured separately with Serbian Benfica handball star Petar Djordjic the same day.

December 31

By now, Djokovic has travelled from Serbia to Spain to return to his property in Marbella. A video is shared on social media showing Djokovic in training on a tennis academy court in Sotogrande, near Marbella, while several pictures show him posing with fans.

January 1

The player’s agent, Elena Cappellaro, in filling out his Australian Travel Declaration, ticks ‘No’ to the question: “Have you travelled, or will you travel, in the 14 days prior to your flight to Australia?” This is despite social media posts indicating Djokovic had been in Belgrade on Christmas Day – 11 days before he arrived in Australia – but in Spain on New Year’s Eve.

January 4

Djokovic leaves Spain destined for Australia, via a stop-over in Dubai, after believing he has been granted permission to enter the country under grounds of medical exemption. He posts a message on Instagram and Twitter that confirms his journey and intention to play at the Australian Open, which alerts the Australian public to his imminent arrival and fuels a fierce backlash. As a result, the Australian Border Force takes a closer look at his entry requirements.


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