Novak Djokovic remains in Australian detention, waiting for a hearing on his medical exemption for the vaccination requirement for those entering the country.
And although Australian Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews previously told reporters that the tennis star “is free to leave at any time that he chooses to do so and Border Force will actually facilitate that,” his father Srdjan says otherwise, speaking out in Serbian capital Belgrade per Sky Sports.
“Novak and his team filed the same type of documents as those 25 other tennis players and they didn’t have any problems, just Novak. They wanted to humiliate him,” Srdjan said.
“He’s not in detention, he’s in prison,” he continued. “They took all of his stuff, even his wallet. They left him with just a phone and no change of clothes, nowhere to wash his face. He’s in prison, our pride is a prisoner of these idiots.”
Djokovic traveled to the country after Victoria state authorities granted him a medical exemption to the country’s strict vaccination requirements. However, upon arrival on Wednesday, Australian Border Force rejected his exemption as invalid and barred him from entering the country.
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A lawyer for the Australian government previously said he should not be deported before his hearing, which is set for Monday.
Djokovic has yet to publicly reveal whether he is vaccinated for COVID-19. However, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday that Djokovic “didn’t have a valid medical exemption” to the vaccination requirement for arrivals.
The Serbian president, Aleksandar Vučić, previously posted on Instagram that he had “told our Novak that the whole of Serbia is with him and [we] are doing everything to see the harassment of the world’s best tennis player is brought to an end. In line with all norms of international law, Serbia will fight for Novak, truth and justice.”
Jelena Djokovic, the tennis star’s wife, took to Twitter on Thursday to share, “It’s Christmas today for us, my wishes are for everyone to be healthy, happy, safe and together with families. We wish we are all together today, but my consolation is that at least we are healthy. And we will grow from this experience.
“Thank you dear people, all around the world for using your voice to send love to my husband. I am taking a deep breath to calm down and find gratitude (and understanding) in this moment for all that is happening. The only law that we should all respect across every single border is Love and respect for another human being. Love and forgiveness is never a mistake but a powerful force. Thank you, hvala vam!”
Novak is not the only tennis star in detention. Renata Voráčová, a Czech women’s tennis player, is now in the same facility as Djokovic, along with “several other players,” the Czech Foreign Ministry says.