As world No.1 tennis player Novak Djokovic sits in an immigrant detention hotel in Melbourne, his supporters once again gathered on the street in front of waving Serbian flags.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion is fighting the cancellation of his visa before the Australian Open.
The Serbian superstar had claimed he was granted a vaccination exemption allowing him to enter Australia, but it appears that it was only granted for the tournament and not for entry into the country.
He was taken to the Park Hotel in Carlton on Thursday – accommodation best known for housing inmates from the Isle of Manus and Nauru.
Outside the hotel on Friday, around 100 demonstrators unfurled a large banner with his portrait and waved Serbian flags.
Online material promoting the rally called for the renewal of No.1’s visa, an end to vaccine passports and what has been described as “medical segregation.”
Djokovic is known to have contracted COVID-19 in the past and has spoken out publicly against vaccination.
Victoria’s interim prime minister Jacinta Allan has once again steered her government away from the controversy surrounding the star player.
She said the Victorian medical panel that granted Djokovic exemption from playing at the Australian Open was an entirely separate process from the exemption his visa was apparently based on.
“How players and support staff enter the country to compete in the Australian Open… is a matter for the Commonwealth of Government and Tennis Australia,” Allan said on Friday.
“The role of the (Victorian) panel was to assess the medical documentation, not to assess their visa eligibility.”
Meanwhile, refugee advocates have condemned Djokovic and called for the release of 36 refugees held at the same hotel, saying the tennis star poses a risk to their health.
“The fact that all eyes are on the Park Hotel because a wealthy tennis player is there is scandalous,” activist Omar Hassan said.
“The eyes of the whole world should be on this hotel prison in the middle of Melbourne’s CBD because of the refugees being locked up and tortured there indefinitely.”