After Djokovic, Australia detains another tennis player on visa issues

Melbourne — Tennis World’s No. 1 Novak Djokovic sought to win the Australian Open on Friday when Czech female player Renata Borakova joined Australia’s immigrant detention to fend off deportation over the country’s COVID-19 rules. .. His record 21st Grand Slam singles title.

Both players were housed in a discreet park hotel in the heart of Melbourne. There, dozens of asylum seekers are also housed behind gray walls and locked windows.

The Czech Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the 81st-ranked Borakova plans to leave after being involved in a similar situation.

“Lenata Borakova decided to leave the tournament and leave Australia due to limited training possibilities,” he said in a diplomatic protest, adding that several other players were in the same situation. rice field.

Djokovic was held at the airport on Wednesday. Authorities have revoked visas granted under a medical exemption from Australia’s strict vaccination requirements.

Djokovic’s lawyer received legal approval to stay Djokovic until a full court hearing was held against the federal government on Monday.

The Australian Border Force (ABF) said on Friday that one had voluntarily left Australia and the third visa had been cancelled. It didn’t give a name.

Novak Djokovic’s family and the president of his home country say Australia’s crackdown on tennis stars is part of the political agenda.

“This has nothing to do with sports. It’s a political agenda. Novak is the best player and best athlete in the world, but hundreds of millions of people from the West can hate it. I can’t, “Djokovic’s father, Srdjan, told Belgrade reporters Thursday.

Canberra rejected proposals by Serbian supporters, including Djokovic’s family, on Friday and accused Australia of being a prisoner. “He is free to leave at any time,” Interior Minister Karen Andrews told reporters.

Friday’s player went to Instagram to thank his supporters around the world in the visa line.

“I look forward to your continued support in the future. I can feel it and I am very grateful for it,” he writes.

Supporters of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic
Supporters of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic will meet outside the Park Hotel, where star athletes are expected to be held, during their stay in Melbourne, Australia on January 6, 2022. .. (Lauren Elliott / Reuters)

The Australian Open will start on January 17, but Djokovic is sitting in a hotel, so training is limited. An Iranian detainee said maggots and mold were found on the bread.

Djokovic, 34, has not disclosed the reason for his exemption. Vaccines are not required in Australia, but are required for some activities.

Spain’s Rafael Nadal, who won 20 Grand Slams like Djokovic, said he felt sorry for his rivals.

Nick Kyrgios of Australia said he supported vaccination. “But how we deal with Novak’s situation is bad, really bad.” He posted on Twitter: “This is one of our great champions, but after all, he’s a human. Do it well.”

Djokovic spent Friday in the Orthodox Church at an immigration detention hotel. The Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox priest in Melbourne asked to visit the nine Australian Open champions to celebrate the Orthodox Christmas, but was refused by the Immigration Bureau because the hotel was closed. rice field.

“Our Christmas is full of customs and it is very important for the priest to visit him,” Church Dean Milorado Lokar told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. That he has to detain Christmas … that’s unthinkable. “

Djokovic’s wife, Jelena, posted a photo of a couple hugging on the beach to commemorate the Orthodox Christmas. “The only law that we all should respect across national borders is love and respect for others.”

Djokovic was licensed by the state government to enter Victoria without vaccination, but the state government does not have the authority to issue visas to foreign visitors.

The Age newspaper reported that the tax exemption was due to being infected with COVID-19 in the last six months.

Tennis Australia and Victorian government officials said Djokovic had not received any incentives and added that it was one of the few approvals for tax exemptions in an anonymous independent assessment of 26 applications.

Some critics say Prime Minister Scott Morrison will take advantage of this issue to qualify for a fight against the pandemics as government-denied elections are imminent.

The Professional Tennis Players Association, a secession group launched by Djokovic, said it was in contact with Djokovic.

“Djokovic confirmed us his happiness,” the group said in a statement. “He also demanded that we allow us to personally share the facts of his detention in his own words and at his own time.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.