Vaccine exemption controversy: Serbia demands Australia to stop treating Novak Djokovic as 'criminal'

Published on Jan 07, 2022 12:10 PM IST

Djokovic had won his court bid on Thursday and as a result, there was no immediate deportation, allowing the defending Australian Open champion to stay in Melbourne until at least Monday.

A supporter of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic rallies outside the Park Hotel, where the star athlete is believed to be held while he stays in Australia, in Melbourne, Australia, January 7, 2022.(REUTERS)
A supporter of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic rallies outside the Park Hotel, where the star athlete is believed to be held while he stays in Australia, in Melbourne, Australia, January 7, 2022.(REUTERS)
ANI |

Serbia's foreign secretary Nemanja Starovic has demanded Australia to move world number one Novak Djokovic to a nicer hotel as the defending Australian Open champion continues to stay in the immigration detention centre after his visa was cancelled.

This demand came after Acting Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan revealed that Tennis Australia did not inform her government about Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison's government letters which stated that a prior COVID infection - the basis for Djokovic's exemption for COVID-19 vaccination - would not be accepted as a genuine exemption.

"We expect that the ambassador personally takes action for him to be moved to accommodation befitting the best sportsman in the world, not a criminal or an illegal immigrant," Starovic said in the statement, as reported by Sydney Morning Herald.

Starovic has also said that the Serbian public believes that Djokovic has become the victim of political games in Australia.

Djokovic had won his court bid on Thursday and as a result, there was no immediate deportation, allowing the defending Australian Open champion to stay in Melbourne until at least Monday.

Djokovic had decided to mount a legal challenge to his visa cancellation by Australia. He decided to fight it out after he had to spend eight hours in detention at Melbourne Airport where he unsuccessfully pleaded his case to border officials.

Australia on Thursday cancelled world number one Novak Djokovic's visa to enter the country, Health Minister Greg Hunt confirmed. Earlier, Djokovic had landed in Australia citing a medical exemption to play in the Australian Open. The particular vaccine exemption which Djokovic cited created a huge controversy and it received backlash from the Australian public.

Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday said Djokovic is no special case and the same rules as everyone will apply to him.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.
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