Serbian president decries Djokovic ‘harassment’ amid reaction to visa cancellation | Novak Djokovic

The Serbian president has accused Australia of “maltreatment” of tennis star Novak Djokovic, who was denied entry to the nation after he flew into Melbourne with a medical exemption from coronavirus vaccination guidelines.

Djokovic was granted a controversial exemption to enter Australia and compete within the Australian Open, however was held up at Melbourne airport by authorities for a number of hours earlier than his visa was cancelled. The Australian Border Force mentioned he had failed to present enough proof to assist his exemption, and the participant has now taken his case to court docket.

Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić mentioned the nation had provided assist to the world No 1. “I told our Novak that the whole of Serbia is with him and that our bodies are doing everything to see that the harassment of the world’s best tennis player is brought to an end immediately,” he mentioned in a press release.

Serbian media reported Vučić had summoned Australia’s ambassador in Belgrade and demanded that they instantly launch Djokovic to compete.


Australian prime minister Scott Morrison rejected the harassment suggestion on Thursday, saying: “Australia has sovereign borders and clear rules that are non-discriminatory as so many countries do … it has to do with the fair and reasonable application of Australia’s border protection laws … all I can say is that the evidence medical exemption that was provided was found to be insufficient.”

In December Tennis Australia launched its Covid vaccination coverage for Melbourne’s grand slam which included a course of for gamers searching for medical exemptions to enter Victoria with out having to bear a 14-day quarantine. Djokovic, who’s opposed to vaccination, mentioned he had been granted an exemption to compete within the competitors though the precise nature of it has not been confirmed.

It is known the reigning Australian Open champion was counting on a earlier Covid an infection as the idea for his exemption to compete – however that isn’t recognised by the federal authorities.

The head of Tennis Australia, Craig Tiley, mentioned exemption functions have been de-identified and rigorously assessed, and that solely a handful of different gamers and officers had been granted exemptions out of 26 functions.


Serbian president Aleksandar VucicSerbian president Aleksandar Vučić has steadfastly backed Novak Djokovic. Photograph: Marko Djokovic/EPA

The preliminary approval sparked public outrage earlier than the tennis star had landed, and the cancellation of his visa solely added to the furore.

Djokovic’s father, Srdjan, instructed Russian media he was outraged by the therapy of his son. “Tonight they can throw him in a dungeon, tomorrow they can put him in chains. The truth is he is like water and water paves its own path. Novak is the Spartacus of the new world which won’t tolerate injustice, colonialism and hypocrisy.”

US participant Tennys Sandgren, an Australian Open quarter-finalist in 2018 and 2020, mentioned Australia didn’t deserve to host a grand slam. “Just to be crystal clear here, two separate medical boards approved his exemption. And politicians are stopping it,” mentioned Sandgren, who has additionally opted not to get vaccinated or play within the event.


Renae Stubbs, a former Doubles world No 1 and ESPN host, described the scenario as “officially a massive shitshow”.

“I think ScoMo [Australian prime minister Scott Morrison] made this a moment because the Australian public is so annoyed by Djoker,” she mentioned on Instagram. “I would be ropeable if I was [Djokovic]. Also the other lesson is, get vaccinated.”

Morrison on Thursday confirmed Djokovic’s visa was cancelled, saying “rules are rules” and praising federal Covid insurance policies, a day after saying such exemptions have been a matter for state governments. “Our strong border policies have been critical to Australia having one of the lowest death rates in the world from Covid, we are continuing to be vigilant,” he mentioned.

Australian tennis legend Rod Laver earlier instructed the Herald Sun newspaper that Djokovic ought to reveal the medical exemption he was granted. “Yes, you’re a great player and you’ve performed and won so many tournaments, so, it can’t be physical. So what is the problem?”

World No 1 Ashleigh Barty mentioned it had been tough for Australians, and Victorians particularly, in the course of the pandemic however that she had “no interest in speaking about Novak’s medical history”. She added: “I understand why they may be frustrated with the decision [to grant Djokovic an exemption].”

The coach of 17-year-old Indian tennis participant Aman Dahiya, who was denied an exemption to play the Australian Open junior championships, additionally accused Australian and tennis authorities of double requirements over Djokovic’s early approval. Dahiya was denied entry as a result of he was unvaccinated, as a result of India has not but allowed individuals below the age of 18 to obtain a vaccine.

His coach, Jignesh Rawal, mentioned that they had provided for Dahiya to discover a dose and quarantine however have been refused, and he mentioned Dahiya was allowed to grow to be “collateral damage” of Australia’s insurance policies however Djokovic – initially – was not.

“It shouldn’t be different,” he mentioned. “The circumstances don’t matter. The rule is if you don’t have two vaccine doses you cannot enter,” he mentioned. “Djokovic can have special treatment on the court (like centre court priority) but the entry point has to be the same.”

Morrison, who’s below hearth over his refusal to make fast assessments free or inexpensive to handle main shortages and large PCR wait instances because the nation struggles with its worst ever outbreak, had robust phrases for Djokovic on Wednesday.

At a press convention he mentioned Djokovic could be “on the next plane home” if he was unable to present proof of his medical exemption.

On Thursday morning Djokovic was reportedly taken to a quarantine lodge forward of potential deportation however his attorneys have launched authorized to receive an injunction.

In a snap listening to earlier than Judge Anthony Kelly of the federal circuit court docket of Australia, it was prompt a full listening to may very well be heard on Monday.

The court docket heard Tennis Australia mentioned it might want to know whether or not Djokovic might compete by Tuesday for scheduling functions. The court docket was additionally requested whether or not Djokovic may very well be moved to a lodge with a tennis court docket so he might practise.

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