Some hundred people responded to Novak Djokovic's father Srdjan call to gather outside Serbia's Parliament to protest against the Australian border authorities' ban on the world number one tennis player from entering the country for the Australian Open (AO), the first Grand Slam tournament in 2022.
Novak Djokovic is currently in quarantine in some lousy migrant hotel in Melbourne after being denied a visa allegedly because he applied for the wrong type of it. He spent hours in isolation at the airport on Wednesday.
Ana Brnabic, Serbia’s Prime Minister told Sky News later on Thursday, that the only thing Belgrade asked for was that Djokovic was transferred from the migrant hotel to a house he rented and where he could be isolated until the Australian authorities’ final decision.
Thursday’s protest in Belgrade lasted about 30 minutes. Srdjan Djokovic said a new rally would be held on Friday and that more people would show up.
The protesters waved Serbia’s flags, and one banner read: „There’s no limit you cannot cross.“
The Minister of Labour, Employment and Social and Veterans’ Affairs and a member of the country’s Crisis Response Team, Darija Kisic Tepavcevic, joined the crowd which also protested against vaccination.
She is otherwise a vocal advocate of the immunisation against the coronavirus.
Djokovic, who refused to get vaccinated, suffered from COVID-19 earlier in 2021, but the reasons why he asked for a medical exemption were not known.
The saga about his participation has been going on for quite some time, with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison leading the campaign of warning Djokovic he would not be let to AO unless vaccinated.
The Australian authorities later backed down a bit, saying that unimmunised players could compete if independent health commissions exempted them on medical grounds.
Djokovic received it signed by two independent commissions, but the border authorities would not let him into Australia. The Health Minister said he did not provide „evidence of a sufficient standard „to enter the country and that he would be sent home.
His family claim he hasn’t violated any Australian law and has applied for the same type of visa as the other three players who have been let in.
Djokovic was about to be deported, but his legal team challenged the ban, and he would appear before a judge on Monday.
The Australian authorities’ decision caused an uproar in Serbia and criticism by some athletes and sports journalists around the world.
Djokovic came to Melbourne to compete for his 10th AO title and thus become the first player ever to have won 21 GS tournaments. He currently shares the record of 20 titles with main opponents Rafael Nadal, who would play in Melbourne and Roger Federer, who would not.