Serbs appalled by Novak Djokovic’s visa revocation in Australia

Djokovic is the defending champion of the first Grand Slam tournament of the season and has won a record nine of his 20 major titles at Melbourne Park.

Novak Djokovic’s supporters in Serbia were appalled on Friday after learning that the top-ranked tennis player was once again at risk of being deported from Australia after his visa was revoked for the second time. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic later accused the Australian government of “harassing” and “abusing” Djokovic and questioned whether he was simply trying to score political points before the next election.

Djokovic initially declined to say whether he had been vaccinated against the coronavirus, but he was granted an exemption from Australia’s strict COVID-19 vaccination regulations to enter the country the first time. He said this week that he was not vaccinated.

If expelled, Djokovic is likely to return to Serbia, where his saga has captivated audiences and where he has near-iconic status and overwhelming support.

“Why didn’t you bring him back right away, or tell him it was impossible to get a visa?” Vucic asked Australian authorities in a social media address. “Why are you harassing him and why are you mistreating not only him, but also his family and an entire free and proud nation.

“Do you need to win elections?” Vucic added. “Novak, we are with you.”

Solidarity with Djokovic is widespread in the Balkan country.

“I’m outraged. I’m angry because I didn’t expect them to treat the best tennis player in the world like this,” Belgrade resident Mila Aleksic said.

“I think he didn’t deserve this, especially since he represents our country and he’s the No. 1 tennis player and the whole world knows him as such. I think he didn’t deserve not to be treated that way.”

Djokovic’s former coach and mentor, Niki Pilic, called the situation “shameful” and said Djokovic was being treated like a “criminal”.

“People don’t understand what it means to be world champion, what kind of strength, willpower and morale is needed,” Pilic said.

Serbian defending champion Novak Djokovic trains at Margaret Court Arena ahead of the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, January 13, 2022.
Australia’s immigration minister used his discretion to revoke the 34-year-old Serb’s visa on grounds of public interest – just three days before the start of the match at the Australian Open (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

“It’s not the end of the world if he doesn’t play the Australian Open… he will play in other tournaments.”

Nebojsa Covic, a former politician and now owner of basketball club Red Star Belgrade, said the controversy made Djokovic “a symbol of the free world” no matter what.

“He is a world star, a beacon of free men. Basic human rights are being violated,” Covic told Prva TV.

“Djokovic is the moral winner of the tournament in Australia.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *