Sports

Djokovic breaks silence as deportation drama continues



Novak Djokovic has broken his silence from his Melbourne hotel after having his visa revoked, posting a message of thanks to his supporters around the world for their backing.

The world No.1 has taken to Instagram for the first time since he arrived in Australia amid the visa row over his COVID-19 vaccination status that has resulted in him being housed at a Melbourne hotel ahead of his Australian Open title defence.

“Thank you to people around the world for your continuous support. I can feel it and it is greatly appreciated,” Djokovic posted, while some supporters were still maintaining their vigil outside the government detention hotel in the Melbourne suburb of Carlton.

Djokovic has received calls at his hotel from back home in Serbia from his parents, as well as the country’s president, as they’ve attempted to provide him with some holiday cheer.

A priest from the Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church in Melbourne asked to visit Djokovic on Friday on what is Orthodox Christmas Day in Serbia but was not allowed because of the lockdown at the hotel.

“Our Christmas is rich in many customs, and it is so important that a priest visits him,” the church’s dean, Milorad Locard, told the ABC.

“The whole thing around this event is appalling. That he has to spend Christmas in detention … it is unthinkable.”

Novak Djokovic of Serbia in action during the Davis Cup Finals 2021, Semifinal 1, tennis match played between Croatia and Serbia at Madrid Arena pabilion on December 03, 2021, in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

(Photo by Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

In Belgrade, there was another major demonstration of support for the national Serbian hero’s plight on Friday, with Djokovic’s father Srdjan telling the crowd Australian authorities wanted to humiliate his “captive” son.

That claim has been dismissed by Australian Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews, who has said “he is free to leave at any time that he chooses.”

Hundreds gathered at the Belgrade rally as Srdjan Djokovic declared his son’s struggle to play at the Open was a fight “for himself, his people and all freedom-loving nations in the world.

“They hate him because Australian politicians have put pressure on people to hate him because he thinks with his own brain.”

While suggesting Australians had themselves been in captivity for two years over strict anti-virus measures, he added: “He (Djokovic) is in prison, not in custody, not in a hotel.

“They took away all his things, took away his wallet, and returned it to him after a few hours,” he added, as the crowd responded with chants of “monsters, monsters!”.

Djokovic had been granted a medical exemption over Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements following a review by two independent panels prior to boarding his flight from the Middle East, but he was denied entry on Wednesday night.

The 34-year-old has since been in the detention hotel while his legal team have launched an appeal seeking to overturn the government decision, with a court agreeing not to deport him until Monday’s scheduled hearing.

Champion Djokovic is due to aim at a record-extending 10th singles title when the Australian Open begins on January 17, but has no chance of training for his title defence while awaiting the court hearing in his hotel.

It was also announced that a second Open competitor, Czech Republic doubles specialist Renata Voracova, is at the same hotel as Djokovic, placed in detention thereafter a sweep by the authorities of players and officials who entered Australia under the same vaccination exemption.

She had played in Melbourne earlier this week but has been asked to leave Australia after being detained by Australian Border Force officials.

The ABF also said that action had been taken against a third person but gave no further details.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.