Fans traveled to the tournament home after their hero again had his visa canceled due to his Covid vaccination status
Supporters of Novak Djokovic put on their latest spirited display outside the Rod Laver Arena, home of the inaugural Grand Slam of 2022, after the Australian government denied the tennis superstar permission to stay again.
Hugely popular Djokovic is being held for the second time and will find out if he will be allowed to play in the tournament at a federal court hearing on Sunday in Australia.
Fans staged a loud and colorful parade in honor of the embattled champion outside the hotel where he was originally held after arriving in Australia when he was grilled by Border Force officers for hours in exchanges which were unveiled in court documents released for his first hearing. Monday.
The world number one has been released but has now had his right to be in the country banned once again in a decision he will challenge hours before his title defense begins.
As Djokovic faces being ordered out of Australia by leaders who view him as a public health threat because he has not been vaccinated against Covid, protesters again showed their dedication to the winner of the 20 Grand Slam title.
Footage from outside the arena shows a gathering of people, some waving flags and beating drums.
A woman can be seen wearing a hat that reads “Free Julian” – a possible reference to imprisoned WikiLeaks overlord Julian Assange – while pleading with the judges to “Free Novak” through a loudspeaker.
Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used his political powers to cancel Djokovic’s visa on “health and good order” grounds.
Predictably, the move was not well received in Djokovic’s hometown of Belgrade, where his family, including father Srdjan and mother Dijana, expressed their anger at Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at about what they believe to be a decision driven solely by politics rather than justice.
“It’s a shame they harass him so much,” exclaimed Miroljub, a Belgrade resident who obviously sympathizes with Djokovic’s argument that he was told he would be given a medical exemption to enter without being vaccinated because he had tested positive for Covid in December 2021 .
“He’s the world number one. We’ll see what happens. I don’t agree with [the decision].”
Not all Serbs feel the same. “I heard that he had committed some kind of fraud,” said another resident, Miroslav.
“If he really did, then he should be sent off – it doesn’t matter that he’s world number one and has won the trophy there nine times.”
Djokovic’s compatriot probably referred to the news that Djokovic made a mistake on his travel declaration form to enter Australia.
The 34-year-old was also lambasted for appearing to conduct an interview with a reporter after learning he had tested positive.
“I felt compelled to go ahead…but I made sure to social distance and wear a mask except when my picture was taken,” the superstar said in a statement after the development materialized.
“While I returned home after the interview to self-isolate for the required period, on reflection it was an error in judgement.”
Melbourne top seed blamed “human error” by his support team over the documentation debacle, who said he had not traveled in the 14 days prior to his flight to Australia, although he had been seen in Spain during that time.
Djokovic insisted the mistake was “certainly not deliberate.” The Australian Open runs from January 17-30, 2022.