World Vax-Mandate Protesters Gather in Australia to Back Detained Tennis Superstar Novak Djokovic
Tennis Star Novak Djokovic Held in Guarded Room in Australia After Reported Visa Mix-Up
Djokovic announced Tuesday that he had received a medical exemption to COVID vaccine requirements that would allow him to play in the upcoming Australian Open. © Juan Naharro/Getty Images for Lexus Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a backhand against Marin Cilic of Croatia during the Davis Cup Semi Final match between Croatia and Serbia at Madrid Arena pavilion Monday in Madrid, Spain. Djokovic is reportedly being held in a room without being allowed to leave while an issue with his visa and a COVID vaccine medical exemption is figured out.
A small group of vaccine-mandate protesters gathered outside the Australian immigration facility on Thursday, where tennis superstar Novak Djokovic continues to be detained after being refused entry to the country.
The group stationed itself outside of the facility, which is actually a quarantine hotel in Melbourne in which Djokovic, 34, must remain until his deportation. The protesters reportedly numbered only about one dozen people, and the only reported audience were a few reporters and some police officers standing outside the hotel.
Explainer: Why Novak Djokovic was not let into Australia
Top-ranked men’s tennis player had visa cancelled after arriving in Melbourne for the Australian Open.He might not get the chance to pursue that mark at the Australian Open when play begins in Melbourne on January 17.
9 News Melbourne reporter Lana Murphy captured video of the protesters as they pleaded their case outside the immigration facility. One man with a megaphone, who appeared to be the leader of the group, could be heard speaking in front of the building.
Anti vax protestors have arrived outside immigration facility where Novack Djokovic is detained. There’s about a dozen and one guy on a megaphone but only audience is the police, and us. @9NewsMelb pic.twitter.com/U4UsH5YD8h— Lana Murphy (@LanaMurphy) January 7, 2022
"Don't forget what happened with!" the man appears to be saying. "Don't forget ... the verminous ... bring a change at that time. A swing that I never expected, and the same is going to rain down on this country."
The protests came about in light of controversy after the Serbian-born Djokovic, currently the No. 1-ranked men's tennis player in the world, had his visa revoked by the Victoria state government Wednesday after he arrived in the country to play in the Australian Open. While never specifically stating that he was unvaccinated, Djokovic has continually refused to reveal if he had received the jab, and said in 2020 that he was "opposed to vaccination."
Open from Australia: For what reasons Has the Visa of Novak Djokov been canceled?
Arrived in Melbourne Wednesday to participate in the first Grand Slam tournament of the year, the world number 1 saw its visa be canceled. In question, its vaccination exemption against CVIV-19, invalid according to the Australian authorities. © provided by FranceInfo arrived and immediately blocked in Australia.
The prior day, Djokovic wrote that he'd been granted a medical exemption to travel Down Under for the tournament, even as the nation continued to struggle with a surge of COVID-19 cases. However, the Australian Border Force later confirmed that he had been ordered to leave the country by Thursday after he "failed to provide appropriate evidence" for his exemption.
The state government of Victoria has mandated that all participants in the Australian Open, including all players and fans, provide proof of vaccination.
Video: 'It's not fair' - Djokovic fans gather at Aus hotel (Reuters)
In the days leading up to Djokovic's visa revocation, many Australians expressed displeasure that the tennis star appeared to receive an exemption due to his status as an elite athlete, one who has won the Australian Open nine times.
Djokovic faces a third day in Australian migrant detention in COVID vaccine furore
Djokovic faces a third day in Australian migrant detention in COVID vaccine furoreThe Serbian superstar, a vocal opponent of vaccine mandates who came to Australia in hopes of winning his 21st Grand Slam at the Australian Open, has been holed up since Thursday in a modest Melbourne hotel since having his visa cancelled due to problems with a medical exemption.
Among those who spoke out was Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who seemed to agree with the decision to revoke Djokovic's visa.
"Rules are rules, and there are no special cases," Morrison said of Djokovic during a press conference. "That's the policy of the government. That has been our government's strong border protection policies, in particular in relation to the pandemic."
"I also want to stress that ultimately, this is the responsibility of the traveler. It is for the traveler to be able to assert and back up their ability to come into the country consistent with our laws," Morrison continued. "If they don't comply with the rules, then the Australian Border Force will do their job, and they have done their job. This is nothing about any one individual. It is simply a matter of following the rules."
Djokovic has also previously spoken out about his skepticism regarding vaccine mandates, and Morrison stated later on that this may have caused border officials to draw their attention to him.
"When you get people making public statements about what they say they have and what they're going to do and what their claims are, well, they draw significant attention to themselves, and ... they can expect to be asked questions more than others," Morrison argued.
Djokovic lawyers say COVID infection gave him Australia exemption
In court filing, lawyers say tennis star contracted COVID-19 last month and was later granted a vaccine exemption.Djokovic was denied entry at the Melbourne airport after border officials cancelled his visa for failing to meet its entry requirement that all non-citizens be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
On the flip-side, vaccine-mandate protesters across social media had echoed support for Djokovic as the tennis star worked on appealing his visa cancellation.
However, one person who didn't was another tennis superstar, Rafael Nadal, who stated that "[Djokovic] knew the conditions since a lot of months ago, so he makes his own decision."
Newsweek has reached out to representatives for Djokovic for comment.
TIMELINE: Djokovic's failed bid to play in Australian Open .
Novak Djokovic’s attempt to play in the Australian Open despite being unvaccinated against COVID-19 came to an end when a court upheld a government minister's rejection of his visa. The unanimous ruling from three Federal Court judges in Melbourne on Sunday came the day before Djokovic was scheduled to begin his title defense at a Grand Slam tournament he’s won a record nine times. The Australian government twice canceled a visa held by the 34-year-old from Serbia and Djokovic’s lawyers appealed twice.