Fri. Jan 21st, 2022

The men’s world tennis number one Novak Djokovic thanked his fans amid a visa dispute over COVID-19 vaccines who saw him detained at a Melbourne hotel before this month’s Australian Open.

“Thank you to people around the world for your continued support. I can feel it and it is very much appreciated, “the Serb wrote on Instagram on Friday.

Djokovic was medical exemption granted of Australia’s strict COVID-19 vaccination requirement after a review by two independent panels before boarding its flight, but was denied access with the landing late Wednesday in Melbourne.

The 34-year-old is currently being housed in a state detention hotel in the suburb of Carlton, 5 km (3 miles) north of Melbourne Park, after authorities canceled his visa when he arrived in Australia.

The player’s lawyers have launched an appeal to reverse the federal government’s decision, with a court agreeing not to deport him before a full trial scheduled for Monday.

Djokovic’s wife, Jelena, also used social media to express her gratitude to the player’s fans for their support.

She wrote: “Thank you, dear people, around the world for using your voice to send love to my husband.

“I take a deep breath to calm down and find gratitude [and understanding] at this moment for everything that is happening. ”

Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, who has been a fierce critic of Djokovic over many issues, on Twitter called on his country to “do better” in its treatment of the nine-time Australian Open champion.

The world number 93 wrote: “Look, I definitely believe in acting, I was vaccinated because of others and for my mother’s health, but how we handle Novak’s situation is bad, really bad.

“Like these memes, headlines, this is one of our great champions, but in the end he’s a human being. Do better.”

In Belgrade, Djokovic’s father, Srdjan, protested outside the National Assembly buildings on Thursday, addressing a media conference to highlight what he saw as an injustice.

He said the player was made a scapegoat and “crucified” in the queue.

The Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA), founded by Djokovic and Canadian player Vasek Pospisil, issued a statement on Friday following contact with the men’s world number one.

It reads: “The PTPA has been in close contact with Mr Djokovic, his family and legal adviser, government officials and the Australian Open leadership. Mr Djokovic verified his well-being with us.

“He also requested that we allow him to share the facts of his detention personally in his own words and at his own time.”

Home Secretary Karen Andrews has confirmed all other players with releases will be closely watched.

“As people come to Australia, they must have met our admission requirements, as well as a visa,” she told Channel 9 News.

“They run the risk if they enter and do not have the right documentation, that they will be stopped at the border and go through exactly the same process that is now taking place.”

The organizers of the Australian Open have been particularly quiet since Djokovic’s arrest and much of the focus now is on how there could be such an apparent difference between what players were told about releases and the position of the border force.

It has sparked a serious diplomatic incident between Australia and Serbia, with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic claiming Djokovic was the victim of “political persecution” by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and others in the country’s government, and has called on them done to get him from the “horrible” hotel “where he is being held in a private rental house.

Andrews insisted Djokovic was not being held under duress, telling ABC: “[He] is not imprisoned in Australia. He is free to leave at any time he chooses to do so and Border Force will actually facilitate it. ”

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