Novak Djokovic faces fine or prison for breaking isolation while Covid positive
Djokovic has apologised for not isolating after allegedly testing positive for Covid-19 on December 16, 2021
Under-fire tennis star Novak Djokovic faces the possibility of jail time or a fine in his native Serbia for breaking isolation rules after testing positive for Covid-19 late last year.
The world number one said he attended a tennis event in Belgrade to present awards to children on December 17, after apparently testing negative on a rapid test.
But he admitted that despite then testing positive he decided to attend his tennis centre on December 18 to uphold a "longstanding commitment for a L’Equipe interview” because he “felt obliged” to and “didn’t want to let the journalist down."
He claims he socially distanced and wore a mask - except when photos were taken.
Now lawyers in Serbia are investigating the 34-year-old, who faces the threat of a three-year prison sentence or, as is more likely, a fine.
"It is a criminal offence, according to Article 248 of the Criminal Code, and for which either a fine or a sentence of up to three years in prison is envisaged," Dragisa Calic of the Committee of Lawyers for Human Rights told the BBC regarding the case.
Citing the potential for an agreement between the prosecution and the defence which would result in community work for Djokovic, Calic added: "The judge would look at the threat of punishment, what are the aggravating and mitigating circumstances, and based on that, he would determine the sanction."
Djokovic is currently embroiled in a high-profile battle with the Australian government over the legitimacy of a Covid-19 exemption he was granted ahead of his arrival in the country for the Australian Open, which begins in earnest on Monday.
He was initially detained upon entering the country, where his family made major claims about his treatment, before eventually winning his court case to remain in the country.
However, the Serb could still be deported from Australia, with the country's immigration minister, Alex Hawke, confirming he is still considering re-cancelling Djokovic's visa, the Guardian reports.
Hawke said the delay in making a decision is down to "lengthy further submissions and supporting documentation” from Novak's lawyers.