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Novak Djokovic, still in detention in Australia, thanks his support

This is his first reaction since the start of the affair. Novak Djokovic thanked his support ” worldwide “, Friday January 7, Orthodox Christmas Day. He is still in the Melbourne detention center where he was placed after his visa was canceled due to the vagueness surrounding his vaccination situation. A story that provokes a lively controversy in Australia, as in Serbia.

Djokovic had landed in Melbourne on Wednesday hoping to defend his Australian Open title (January 17-30) and win a 21e record Grand Slam title.

“Thank you to my family, loved ones, Serbia, and all the good people around the world who send me their support. Thank God for the health ”, he wrote on Instagram in a message in Serbian, a first reaction since arriving in Australia.

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A believer, he also wished a Merry Christmas to the Orthodox as around fifty people gathered under the windows of the detention center where he would be, although his presence has not been officially confirmed. “We come to support him because it is our Christmas and he is going through a difficult period”, commented Sash Aleksic, in the crowd mingling activists defending the rights of migrants, antivax and fans of the player.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic denounced a “Political hunt” and the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, which celebrates Orthodox Christmas on Friday, assured Djokovic in a message that millions of worshipers across the world pray for him.

New hearing Monday

The Serb was placed in detention after the cancellation of his visa to enter Australia, on the night of Wednesday to Thursday, because he did not meet the strict conditions of entry into the territory imposed as part of the fight against the Covid-19. Most foreigners are not allowed to travel to Australia, and those who can must be fully immunized. Only Australian nationals can benefit from a medical exemption like the one used by the world number one when he left for Melbourne.

According to the Australian government, the papers of the 34-year-old player, who had opposed compulsory vaccination and whose vaccination status is unknown, did not meet the required conditions. Placed in detention pending his deportation, he lodged an appeal. He will therefore not be deported before Monday, the date of a new hearing before a judge in Melbourne. Home Secretary Karen Andrews denied claims the champion was being held against his will: “He is free to leave whenever he wants and the border guards will facilitate his departure. “

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Two other people who came to participate in the Australian Open are the subject of an investigation, the minister also confirmed. Another tennis player, Czech Renata Voracova, is in the same detention center as Novak Djokovic after also having her Australian visa canceled, she said in an interview with Czech dailies DNES and Sport.

Other tournaments in question

The Australian imbroglio is already asking questions about the rest of the world number one’s season. If he does not get vaccinated, he may have to give up other competitions, especially in the United States, where the vaccine is also mandatory to cross the border.

On the Grand Slam side, the next tournament is Roland-Garros in the spring. But the French Minister of Sports, Roxana Maracineanu, assured Friday that “Health protocols imposed for major events by the federations” allow “For someone like Novak Djokovic to be able to enter the territory” from France.

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The World with AFP

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