Rachel Fieldhouse

News

Mon, 17 Jan, 2022

Serbia's reaction to Djokovic deportation

Serbia's reaction to Djokovic deportation

Anger has grown in Serbia after Novak Djokovic’s visa was cancelled for a second time, with the country’s President claiming the Australian government has “humiliated” itself.

Djokovic’s legal bid to overturn the cancellation of his visa once again was shot down on Sunday, after three federal judges upheld the decision on public order grounds.

The World No.1 was ordered to leave the country, departing from Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport late on Sunday night with a retinue of aids and officials. The Emirates flight EK409 to Dubai took off at 10.51pm local time, according to an AFP reporter on board.

Srdjan Djokovic, the tennis champion’s father, took to Instagram with claims Djokovic was subject to an “assassination attempt”.

“The assassination attempt on the best sportsman in the world is over, 50 bullets to Novak’s chest. See you in Paris,” he wrote.

Serbian President Aleksander Vučić also shared his criticism over Djokovic’s treatment, saying the latest hearing was “a farce with a lot of lies”.

“They think that they humiliated Djokovic with this 10-day harassment, and they actually humiliated themselves,” he told reporters on Sunday. 

“Djokovic can return to his country with his head held high.

“If you said that the one who was not vaccinated has no right to enter, Novak would not come or would be vaccinated.”

Djokovic was granted a “medical exemption” by organisers of the Australian Open based on his positive PCR test results from December.

However, organisers had previously been warned that infection with COVID-19 would be insufficient proof for a player to be unvaccinated and allowed in the country, prompting Djokovic’s visa to be cancelled the morning after he arrived in Melbourne on January 5.

The decision saw Djokovic stay at a hotel housing immigrants in detention for several days, before his visa was returned to him following a successful appeal at the Federal Circuit Court.

Despite his legal victory, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used his personal powers to cancel Djokovic’s visa for a second time, prompting the tennis star to appeal the decision again in federal court.

Mr Vučić reportedly told the BBC that the relationship between Australia and Serbia would need work in order to improve, insisting that the saga was about “truth and justice, not just Djokovic”.

“You were saying medical exemptions and medical exemptions and he came there with a medical exemption proposal and then you were mistreating him for 10 days,” he told the BBC.

“Why did you do it? And then doing that witches’ hunt campaign against him, that is something that no one can understand.”

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić also weighed in, describing the decision as “scandalous”.

“I am disappointed and I think it has shown how the rule of law functions in some other countries, i.e. how it doesn’t function,” she told Belgrade’s Beta News Agency, according to a CNN translation.

In a statement posted online, the Serbian Olympic Committee said they believed “Novak came out as the winner again” despite his deportation.

“We are proud of Novak Djokovic and the way he coped with these extremely difficult and unpleasant circumstances. Despite this scandalous decision, we believe Novak came out as the winner again,” they said.

Djokovic’s family also spoke out, sharing their disappointment in a statement published by local media.

“We are very disappointed by a federal court ruling and the fact that Novak has to leave Australia,” the family said in the statement.

“These are difficult moments, notably for Novak, but what we all have to do - namely us, his family - is to give him support more than ever.”

Image: Getty Images