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Serbian President steps into the fray – calls Australia’s decision to deport tennis great Djokovic as ‘scandalous’

Novak Djokovic was deported from Australia for not being vaccinated against Covid-19 (Image courtesy: Twitter/@@DjokerNole)

Top leaders of Serbia have severely criticised Australia's decision to deport World No. 1 men's tennis player Novak Djokovic for not being vaccinated against Covid-19.

Djokovic was deported from Australia as a court rejected his plea on Sunday to stay in the country to play in the Australian Open after the government cancelled his visa.

The top player was detained by Australian immigration authorities on January 6 for not being vaccinated against Covid-19. A court ordered his release on January 10 before he was detained again on Saturday with the Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke using discretionary powers to cancel his visa.

The tennis star was chasing a record 21st Grand Slam triumph by defending his title at the Australian Open.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic questioned the entire process by the Australian authorities leading to Djokovic's deportation.

Vucic said: "He came to Australia with a medical exemption proposal and then you were mistreating him for 10 days. Why did you do it? Doing a witch hunt against him? This is something that no one can understand," the President told BBC.

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic described the decision as "scandalous".

"I am disappointed… I think it demonstrated how the rule of law is functioning, or better to say not functioning, in some other countries. In any case, I can hardly wait to see Novak Djokovic in our own country, in Serbia," said Brnabic in Belgrade.

The Olympic Committee of Serbia said that it received the decision on the deportation of Novak Djokovic from Australia with great disappointment, as well as the "deprivation of the opportunity" to confirm the title of the greatest tennis player in the world of all time on the sports field.

"We are proud of Novak Djokovic and the way he coped with these extremely difficult and unpleasant circumstances… Regardless of the fact that he certainly felt the great support of his compatriots and the good deeds of the world public, only he knows how difficult it was for him in the previous days, and he showed all the manners of the greatest champion in such circumstances," the Committee said in a social media post titled 'Great injustice to Novak! He is our winner!"

Djokovic's journey from Melbourne to Dubai was one of the most tracked flight on internet.

Serbian Sports Minister Vanja Udovicic said Djokovic was the best tennis player ever and "everything else is nonsense and shame, absurdity and hypocrisy!"

ATP Tour, the global governing body of men's professional tennis, said that Sunday's decision to uphold Novak Djokovic's Australian visa cancellation marks the end of "a deeply regrettable series" of events.

"Ultimately, decisions of legal authorities regarding matters of public health must be respected. More time is required to take stock of the facts and to take the learnings from this situation," the body said in a statement.

Also Read: World number 1 tennis star Novak Djokovic deported from Australia