Serbian Tennis player, Novak Djokovic was denied entry into Australia and his visa was revoked regarding the controversy surrounding his vaccination status. Now, he’s being kept in detention in Australia.
The 34-year-old Djokovic was expected to participate at this year’s Australian Open after he was exempted from vaccination rules.
It is mandatory for all players and staff at the tournament to be vaccinated or have an exemption granted by an expert independent panel.
His detention has caused a clear divide in option amongst citizens across the world on social media. “Rules are rules” or is Djokovic being used to make a political statement?
The prime minister of Australia Scott Morrison said on Twitter:
Mr Djokovic’s visa has been cancelled. Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders. No one is above these rules. 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.
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) January 5, 2022
Many are questioning why the tennis star’s visa was approved in the first place, if “rules are rules.”
Increasingly uneasy about how Djokovic is being treated. Whatever your views on the man, he was approved to board that plane. And now? An 8hr interrogation, a glorified detention centre, and global ridicule. This does not feel like 'rules are rules'. It feels like a show trial.
— Oliver Brown (@oliverbrown_tel) January 6, 2022
So let me get this right. Immigration approved his visa, then when you got political heat over it, you tried to blame Victoria. Realised there were votes in being "tough on borders" so revoked it, and now claim to have fixed a problem of your own making?
— JQ (@jamurquin) January 5, 2022
According to EWN, Novak Djokovic’s family and fans have now reacted against his detention, which left him spending Orthodox Christmas Day on Friday in a Melbourne immigration detention facility.
In a series of enraged remarks, his father Srdjan Djokovic told a crowd in Belgrade that his son was in fact a victim of a “political witch hunt” and “corona fascism” and should be freed, reports The South African.
Outside Melbourne’s Park Hotel (now detention centre), fans shouted “free Novak”.
Some protesters played nationalistic Serbian songs, some held anti-vaccine placards, and others rallied in support of refugees.
Novak Djokovic is being detained in the same place that refugees are held, some who’ve been detained for 9yrs.
They came to Australia to flee war and torture. He came to win a tennis match.
He will be allowed out. They won’t.
Imagine if compassion and outrage was consistent.
— 💚🌏 Sarah Hanson-Young (@sarahinthesen8) January 6, 2022
Novak has not yet gone public about his vaccination status, but observers are certain that Djokovic recently tested positive for COVID-19, which allows him to postpone taking the vaccine.
The process of getting an exemption is run independently of Tennis Australia and involves two different medical panels from government health authorities, reports Daily Mail. There has to be an ‘acute major medical condition’ in the individual.
Australian authorities said the Serbian star — who has declared himself against vaccines and claimed to have an exemption — could not provide evidence of either and was detained, pending deportation.
Djokovic “met all the required conditions for the entry and participation at the tournament that he would have certainly won,” his father insisted.
His mother Djina Djokovic told television reporters at the rally: “They are keeping him as a prisoner. It is just not fair. It is not human [humane]. So I just hope that he will be strong as we are trying also to be very strong.”
It is far from clear that he will play in the 17-30 January tournament and Judge Anthony Kelly warned the star’s lawyers in a hearing on Thursday that justice would be served through all necessary appeals. “The tail won’t be wagging the dog here,” he said.
Meanwhile, two other players and staff that were meant to attend the Australian Open are also being investigated, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews confirmed on Friday. She denied the allegations of Djokovic being held against his will.
Australian authorities are refusing to confirm where the Serbian star is being held, but he is believed to have spent the night at the Melbourne “Alternative Place of Detention.”