The French journalist who interviewed Novak Djokovic without knowing that the men’s world number one had tested positive for coronavirus said he was told not to ask him about vaccination for the virus.
Franck Ramella from L’Equipe sports daily spoke with the men’s world number one in Belgrade on Dec 18, two days after the date Djokovic has stated he tested positive for Covid-19.
Ramella wrote: “The instructions were clear – no questions about vaccination.”
The journalist said the topic was clearly “very sensitive”.
“So we didn’t ask him if he had made efforts to get tested. If we had asked him, what would have been the point?”
Writing in the paper on Tuesday, Ramella said the L’Equipe photographer asked Djokovic to remove his mask for five minutes during the interview, but he refused.
The player did later pose without a mask for a photo.
Ramella said he only learned “three weeks later” that Djokovic had tested positive but that he himself had tested negative after the interview.
Djokovic admitted on Wednesday he had made an “error of judgement” in going ahead with the interview.
“I felt obliged to go ahead and conduct the L’Equipe interview as I didn’t want to let the journalist down but did ensure I socially distanced and wore a mask except when my photograph was being taken,” Djokovic said.
“On reflection, this was an error of judgement and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment.”
Djokovic made the admission in an Instagram post about his movements before he travelled to Australia, where he is hoping to take part in the Australian Open from Monday.
The Serbian star, who has admitted he is not vaccinated, flew into Melbourne a week ago claiming a vaccine exemption because of a positive PCR test result on Dec 16.
But border officials rejected his exemption saying a recent infection was an insufficient justification for an exemption, cancelled his visa and placed him in a detention centre.
Although Djokovic overturned that decision on a technicality on Monday, he is facing possible deportation from Australia if the country’s immigration minister decides he has provided false information on his visa form.
Djokovic says his agent filled in a form which stated he had not travelled in the 14 days before his arrival, after it emerged he flew from Belgrade to Marbella in Spain during the two weeks before leaving for Melbourne.