Health

Serbian PM vows to help national hero Djokovic in Australia visa fight

Djokovic, a
vocal opponent of COVID-19 vaccine mandates, has been in immigration detention
in a Melbourne hotel since Thursday after his visa was cancelled due to
problems with his medical exemption from vaccination.

“He’s
staying in Park Hotel until the final decision is made,” Brnabic told
Serbian media.

“We’ve
managed to make sure gluten-free food is delivered to him, as well as
exercising tools, a laptop and a SIM card so that he is able to be in contact
with his family.”

Djokovic,
who is seeking to win a record 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open
this month, said in a court filing
https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/djokovic-faces-third-day-australian-migrant-detention-covid-vaccine-furore-2022-01-08
on Saturday that he had been given the vaccination exemption because he had
contracted COVID-19 last month.

A court
hearing will be held on Monday over the visa cancellation.

The drama
over the 34-year-old player has caused diplomatic tensions between Serbia and
Australia. But Brnabic said on Saturday that she had spoken with Australian
government officials and that the talks had been constructive.

“It’s a
positive tone from the Australian side. The Serbian government is ready to
provide all the guarantees necessary for Novak to be allowed to enter
Australia, the Serbian president (Aleksandar Vucic) is also involved,” she
added.

Serbian
Parliament speaker Ivica Dacic also threw his support behind the tennis world
number one.

“Novak
is already a winner, it’s obvious that they won’t let him play so that he is unable
to become the best tennis player in history,” he told RTS state TV.

‘FREEDOM-LOVING
SPIRIT’

Djokovic’s
family held a rally of support for a third day running. Standing in front of
the Serbian parliament building in Belgrade his father Srdjan Djokovic said he
was “disgusted” at the way his son was being treated.

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“It’s
appalling what Novak has been going through,” he told about 300
protesters.

“The
worldwide support he is getting is worth more than dozens of grand slams. They
can’t call this tournament of theirs an Open anymore when it’s closed.”

“We’re
not angry with the Australian people, we’re angry with their politicians. He
wouldn’t have travelled in the first place if they hadn’t granted him
entry.”

Some of the
protesters said they shared Srdjan Djokovic’s views.

“We
hope that justice will prevail and that we will come here on Monday with a
different outcome, one that will allow us to celebrate his freedom,” Milan
Jokic told Reuters.

“His
freedom-loving spirit will win, a spirit incarcerated along with him right
now,” Nada Popovic added.

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