Novak Djokovic set foot on the site of the Australian Open and its Rod Laver Arena for the first time on Tuesday. All smiles: the Serb had won a precious legal victory against the Australian government the day before. The champion, who arrived in Melbourne overnight from Wednesday to Thursday, had his visa canceled and spent the next four days in a migrant detention center before the Melbourne Federal Court judge ruled in his favor on Monday.
The world number one has nothing to be totally relieved for as much. His participation is still pending: his visa may still be revoked. A spokesman for Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said he “considered canceling Novak Djokovic’s visa” using his ministerial powers, but declined to say more for legal reasons.
Above all, new elements could weaken the position of the world number one. One: Contrary to what he stated in an official document filled out when he arrived in Australia, the 34-year-old traveled between Serbia and Spain at the end of December, as several publications in the international press attest and on social networks.
Two: a collaboration between the very serious German daily Der Spiegel and the independent online data analysis site Zerforschung shed light on Tuesday on another disturbing detail among the documents provided by the Djokovic clan.
A revealing QR code
When he landed in the country on January 5, the nine-time Australian Open winner was provided with a medical exemption from vaccination supported by two PCR test certificates. One positive for Covid, dated December 16, 2021. The other negative, dated December 22.
However, according to the investigation carried out by the German media, the positive test would have actually been carried out on December 26. In Serbia, PCR test results are recorded in a central registry that lists all test results, accessible via a QR code on the person’s test certificate.
By scanning the QR code, the patient can only access part of the information about the test: the name of the person tested, the test result and a test number. In theory, it is therefore not possible to verify when the test was carried out. Except that the QR code also provides access, in the URL of the file, to the number corresponding to the “Timestamp Unix”: a date measurement format representing the number of seconds elapsed since January 1, 1970 at midnight.
By converting this kind of time marker, journalists were able to verify whether the dates mentioned by the Djokovic clan corresponded to the Unix number. In the negative test of December 22, the timestamp and date of the test certificate match. For the champion’s positive PCR test, which according to the court document was assessed on December 16, the test identification number of 16 (1 640 524 880) would correspond not to 16 but to one of those listed in the day of December 26.
Up to three years suspension for tampering
In other words: the Serbian clan would have falsified the positive test carried out by Djokovic on December 26, backdating it by ten days. The maneuver would tend to explain why the Serb appeared in the middle of the public without a mask on December 17 and 18, as shown by several posts on social networks. On the HackerNews site, however, a user gives a plausible explanation for these timestamps: they are regenerated each time the pdf file containing the test result is downloaded. What can therefore “explain some inconsistencies”, says Zerforschung. But another gray area remains: it concerns the “confirmation code”, another series of numbers present on the same document, the first part of which corresponds to the ID number of the test. For Djokovic, the ID number of the positive test (n ° 7371999) would be later than that negative of December 22 (n ° 7320919), whereas it should be lower. But these numbers “stay the same”can we read on Zerforschung.
Would the Serb have falsified the dates of his tests to be sure to comply with the criteria for entering Australian territory, as well as with the protocol in force at the Australian Open? In a letter sent to players last November, the ATP had however been clear: a player guilty of a false declaration concerning his vaccination status will be punished by the body. Penalties mentioned in the text range from a simple fine (up to $100,000) and/or suspension from participation in ATP Tour or ATP Challenger tournaments for a period of up to three years.