Djokovic thanks support

Novak Djokovic, the world’s top male tennis player, spent an Orthodox Christmas at an Australian immigration hotel on Friday, evading deportation over the country’s COVID-19 rules and trying to compete in the Australian Open.

Djokovic received a call from his native Serbia, including from his parents and president who wanted to raise his spirit during the holidays.

On Instagram, he posted: I can feel it and it is greatly appreciated. “

The 34-year-old athlete was banned from entering the country late Wednesday because the federal border authorities at Melbourne Airport refused a medical exemption from Australia’s strict COVID-19 vaccination requirements.

He has been held in a detention hotel in Melbourne until a court hearing on Monday, a week before the tournament begins, aiming to win his 21st Grand Slam singles title, breaking records.

Epoch Times Photo
Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates after defeating Croatia’s Marin Cilic in the Davis Cup tennis semifinal match at Madrid Arena on December 3, 2021. (Bernat Armangue / AP Photo)

During the day, Djokovic’s supporters waved flags and gathered outside the Park Hotel to accommodate refugees and seekers.

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. “

Novak Djokovic protesters
Protesters will meet on January 7, 2022, outside the immigration detention hotel in Melbourne, Australia, where Novak Djokovic of Serbia is believed to be staying. (Hamish Blair / AP photo)
Djokovic supporter
Protesters will meet on January 7, 2022, outside the immigration detention hotel in Melbourne, Australia, where Novak Djokovic of Serbia is believed to be staying. (Hamish Blair / AP photo)

The Australian Border Force said Friday that after further investigation of two other people involved in the Australian Open, one voluntarily left the country and the other was detained while awaiting deportation.

The Czech embassy has identified one of them as 38-year-old double sprayer Renata Borakova and said he will not participate in the tournament.

Australia’s COVID-19 regulations require that travelers entering the country have been vaccinated twice or exempted for true medical reasons, such as acute conditions, in order to avoid quarantine. All players, staff, officers and fans must be fully vaccinated with COVID-19 to enter the tournament venue.

Djokovic flew to Australia after receiving a medical exemption approved by the Victorian Government, supported by the Australian Tennis Federation. The reason for the tax exemption has not been disclosed. However, the Australian government declared it invalid when he arrived.

Novak Djokovic
Australian Open defending champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia will be waiting at the Australian Border Forces desk upon arrival at Melbourne Airport, Australia on January 5, 2022. (AP photo)

This controversy has become a thorny topic in cities where residents spent 256 days with severely restricted mobility between 2020 and 21. Djokovic’s tax exemption aroused allegations that star athletes received special treatment.

Some players sympathize with his situation, while others say vaccination could prevent the drama.

But in the recent shift in controversy, even those who were critical of Djokovic in the past now appear to be in his corner.

“Look, I definitely believe in taking action. I have been vaccinated for the health of others and my mother, but how I deal with Novak’s situation is bad. It’s really bad, “said Nick Kyrgios vaccination, an Australian player and some candid critic of Djokovic’s opinion, posted on Twitter. “This is one of our great champions, but after all, he’s a human. Do it well.”

Earlier this week, Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said 26 tournament-related people had applied for medical exemptions and were only granted “a handful.” Since then, three of them have been challenged.

John Pai

Associated Press