Novak Djokovic's visa was canceled by the Australian government on Thursday morning even though he had been granted a COVID-19 vaccine exemption. Djokovic arrived at Melbourne airport just before midnight on Wednesday, but was kept isolated for over eight hours inside a room (guarded by the police) before the Border Force officials finally made the decision to bar his entry into the country.
Not surprisingly, the incident has elicited widespread support for Novak Djokovic from the sporting world. Many tennis players and athletes, including the likes of Tennys Sandgren and Nikola Vucevic, have criticized the Australian government for their treatment of the World No. 1.
Writing on his Twitter handle, Sandgren took a dig at the Australian Open management and claimed that Australia doesn't "deserve" to host a Slam. The American questioned why Djokovic was denied entry despite having been cleared by a pair of independent expert panels, and suggested that there was politics involved in the decision.
NBA star Nikola Vucevic, meanwhile, termed Novak Djokovic's last-minute visa cancelation a "joke." Vucevic also sarcastically suggested that April's Fool's Day is celebrated on 5 January in Australia.
English footballer Ollie Harfield who represents Southampton FC in the English Premier League, tweeted that Novak Djokovic's case is an example of how governments are turning people "against the unvaccinated".
Tennis player Arina Rodionova compared Novak Djokovic's fight with the Australian government to a reality show. The Russian-born Australian claimed she was "excited" for the upcoming episode of the "Australia Border Security show."
A large number of fans have also been showing their support for Novak Djokovic on Twitter, using the hashtag #WeStandWithNovak.
"Serbia will fight for Novak Djokovic, for justice and truth" - Serbian President Aleksander Vucic
In a strongly worded Instagram post, Serbian President Aleksander Vucic revealed that he had had a telephonic conversation with Novak Djokovic. Vucic asserted that the 20-time Grand Slam champion was being "strong", and vowed that the entire nation would "fight" for him.
Vucic also mentioned that the authorities are "taking all measures" to stop Djokovic's "harassment" in Australia.
"I just finished a phone conversation with Novak Djokovic. I told our Novak that the whole of Serbia is with him, and that our authorities are taking all measures to stop the harassment of the best tennis player in the world in the shortest possible period," Vucic captioned the post on Instagram.
"In accordance with all norms of international public law, Serbia will fight for Novak Djokovic, for justice and truth. By the way, Novak is strong, as we all know him," the Serbian President added.
As of now, Novak Djokovic is being housed at the Park Hotel in Carlton, a suburb of Melbourne. Even though he is technically not allowed to step on Australian land right now, he also cannot be deported by the Australian government until Monday.