Novak Djokovic broke his silence to thank his supporters when he spent a second night at an internment hotel when Australian officials canceled another tennis player’s visa.
The world’s number 1 took to Instagram for the first time since arriving in Australia amid the visa dispute over his COVID-19 vaccination status that resulted in his being housed at a Melbourne hotel prior to defending his Australian Open title.
Check out the video above to see how Novak Djokovic’s family starred in the ongoing drama
“Thank you to people around the world for your continued support,” said Djokovic.
“I can feel it and it is very much appreciated.”
A priest from the Serbian Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity in Melbourne asked to visit Djokovic on Friday on Orthodox Christmas Day in Serbia, but was not allowed to because the hotel was blocked.
“Our Christmas feast is full of many customs, and it is so important that a priest visit,” said the dean of the church, Milorad Locard, the ABC.
“The whole thing about this event is terrifying. That he would have to spend Christmas in custody … that is unthinkable. “
Djokovic’s wife, Jelena, has also posted on social media suggesting that her husband should be treated with compassion.
“My consolation is that at least we are healthy. And we will grow from this experience, “she said on Instagram.
“Thank you, dear people around the world, for using your voice to send love to my husband.
“I take a deep breath to calm myself down and to find gratitude (and understanding) for everything that happens in that moment.
“The only law we should all respect across every line is love and respect for another person.
“Love and forgiveness are never a mistake, they are a powerful force.”
The saga took another turn on Saturday after documents allegedly revealed that Tennis Australia had informed players that they would not need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter Australia if they had the virus in the previous six Months.
“The category for which you may be entitled to a temporary medical exception has now been clarified: Recently PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection (after July 31, 2021), with vaccination up to six months after Infection can be postponed, “said the TA letter to the player, released by the Herald Sun.
This information contradicted TA chief Craig Tiley, who had been shared several times in late November by health officials and health secretary Greg Hunt himself.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (ATAGI) recommendation for a temporary exemption from vaccination due to recent infection does not apply to unvaccinated travelers entering Australia.
TA entered the controversy for the first time, denying that the mounting evidence proved Djokovic’s visa problems to be to blame.
“We completely oppose that the playgroup was knowingly misled,” TA said in a statement on Friday evening.
“The players’ information that they could enter the country with a medical exception was taken from the Smart Traveler website to which Greg Hunt referred us directly.”
Kyrgios: “I don’t want a beam from him”
Nick Kyrgios has warned that an excited Djokovic will be eager to “stick it out” if the nine-time champion can play at the Australian Open.
He doubled his call on Friday to the Australian authorities to “do better” than the degrading treatment of Djokovic, saying it was not “human” and the Serb was selected for his superstar status.
“I feel with him now, it’s not really human what’s going on … I want it to end,” Krygios said at a Sydney Tennis International press conference.
But Kyrgios doesn’t believe that imprisoning the world number one in a small hotel room will diminish his hopes for a 21st Grand Slam record title in Melbourne.
He hopes not to meet him too early in the draw.
“If he’s allowed to play the Australian Open, I don’t want a bar from him,” said Kyrgios.
“I assume he will be pissed off – he will be very determined to play well and stick with whatever is going on.
“I think he won’t have any problems preparing and that’s just the extra fuel for him.
“We all know how good he is as a competitor – you don’t become such a great champion without facing such adversity, and I’m sure he got through much tougher times than spending a few extra days in a hotel room. “
The couple have a checkered history, but Kyrgios, who has fallen back to number 93 in the world, announced that they used to be friends who trained together before tournaments.
He said Djokovic was also generous with his money and time when he tried to raise funds for the 2020 bushfire appeal.
“The media is so quick to jump into things like that and forget that he actually helped us,” said 26-year-old Krygios.
“Most athletes wouldn’t do that, they are selfish. I don’t forget that and don’t think that’s right. “
Border officials track down Czech players and deport them
The Czech double specialist Renata Voracova was accommodated in the same hotel by the Australian Border Force (ABF). Her visa was canceled after playing an event in Melbourne earlier this week.
And the ABF has also confirmed that a third person within the tennis cohort has been taken into account.
“One person (a trainer) left Australia voluntarily … and a third person (Voracova) visa has been canceled,” the ABF said.
It is believed that both of them cited recent COVID-19 infection in their vaccine exemption applications.
The 38-year-old veteran Voracova, who is number 81 in the world rankings in doubles, arrived in Australia last month and has already participated in a warm-up event in Melbourne.
The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs has ordered a “please explain” from Australian officials.
A statement from Prague confirmed that Voracova would be returning home and not contesting the decision, while suggesting that more players were already in the same situation.
“We can confirm that the Czech tennis player Renata Voracova is in the same custody as Djokovic with several other players,” said a statement from the Czech Foreign Ministry.
“We submitted a protest note through our embassy in Canberra asking for an explanation of the situation.
“However, Renata Voracova decided to abandon the tournament and leave Australia due to limited training opportunities.”
On Friday, the Serbian Foreign Ministry criticized Australia’s decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa, stating that the star was the victim of a political game.
In a statement, Serbian State Secretary Nemanja Starovic said the Serbian government did not want to influence the upcoming court case in Australia, but wanted Mr Djokovic to be moved to better accommodation in the meantime.
“The Serbian public has a strong impression that Djokovic fell victim to a political game against his will and that he was lured to travel to Australia to be humiliated,” the ministry said in a statement.
“Novak Djokovic is not a criminal, terrorist or illegal immigrant, but he has been treated in this way by the Australian authorities, which has caused understandable outrage among his fans and citizens of Serbia.”
Home Secretary Karen Andrews said Djokovic is not being held in Australia.
“He’s free to go anytime, and Border Force will make it easier,” she told ABC News on Friday morning.
Check out the video below to see Home Secretary Karen Andrews bring up the saga
The Professional Tennis Players Association, an organization founded by Djokovic and Canadian player Vasek Pospisil, issued a statement on Friday after contacting the world’s number one.
It read: “The PTPA was in close contact with Mr. Djokovic, his family and legal counsel, government officials and the leadership of the Australian Open. Mr Djokovic has confirmed his well-being to us.
“He has also requested that we allow him to personally communicate the facts of his detention in his own words and in his own time.”
The dean of the Serbian Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity in Melbourne, Father Milorad Locard, reportedly wanted to visit Djokovic on Friday to celebrate Orthodox Christmas with him.
“That he has to spend Christmas in the internment camp is unthinkable,” he told the ABC.
At a protest and press conference in Belgrade, Djokovic’s father Srdjan claimed that the 20-time Grand Slam winner had been “crucified” by the Australian authorities.
“He met all the necessary conditions to enter and participate in the tournament that he would surely have won as it is Novak, the best tennis player and athlete in the world,” said Djokovic Sr.
“Jesus was crucified and endured a lot, but he still lives among us. Novak will also be crucified … He will endure it. “
Nick Kyrgios, one of Djokovic’s harshest critics, says the Serb deserves better treatment than the humiliation he is suffering.
Kyrgios is in favor of vaccination, but described Djokovic’s situation as “really bad”.
“Look, I definitely believe in taking action, I’ve been vaccinated for others and for my mother’s health, but how we deal with Novak’s situation is bad, really bad,” the 26-year-old tweeted.
“Like those memes, headlines, this is one of our great champions, but at the end of the day he’s human. Do it better.”