Serbian minister warns Australia of ‘lasting mark’ after ‘shameful’ Novak Djokovic conduct

Novak Djokovic’s brother abruptly ends press conference

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The President of the Serbian parliament, Ivica Dacic, has called Australia’s behaviour both shameful and disgraceful after Novak Djokovic was released from a Melbourne detention centre on Monday. The tennis star and his entourage won their appeal over his cancelled visa, amid suspicion over his medical exemption to compete at this month’s Australian Open. 

The Australian public were broadly taken by surprise when Djokovic obtained an exemption in the first place, given his opposition to mandated vaccines. 

The Serb admitted to Australian border officials that he is unvaccinated, while the country has seen months of strict Covid measures. 

Authorities demanded more detail on his exemption, which was approved by two independent medical panels. 

And a judge ruled on Monday that Djokovic should be released, although Australia’s immigration minister retains the power to immediately re-detain and deport him. Dacic was quick to criticise the ordeal. 

“Obviously the Australian authorities will decide to deport Djokovic, who will then not be able to enter Australia for the next three years,” he said, according to The Guardian.

“[The incident will leave] a lasting mark on relations between Serbia and Australia.

“Every state has the discretionary right to refuse or allow entry to any person, but it never happens to prominent people such as Djokovic.

“That is something you rarely see. In general, [Australia’s] behaviour has been shameful and disgraceful.”

There has been plenty of support for Djokovic in Serbia, where the tennis ace has won the Sportsman of the Year award on eight separate occasions. 

When it comes to Australian Opens, he can go one better, with nine titles to his name and 20 Grand Slams overall. 

Despite his high standing in the tennis world, Djokovic’s mother described the conditions in which he was kept in Melbourne as ‘inhumane’. 

Nevertheless, the 34-year-old was seen practicing on court just hours after his release on Monday, and he claims to be focused on completing the tournament despite his nightmare build-up. 

“I’m pleased and grateful that the Judge overturned my visa cancellation,” he said on Twitter.

“Despite all that has happened, I want to stay and try to compete.

“I remain focused on that. I flew here to play at one of the most important events we have in front of the amazing fans.

“For now I cannot say more but THANK YOU all for standing with me through all this and encouraging me to stay strong.”

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