Sunday, January 16, 2022

Serbian President: "chicane" Tennis star Novak Djokovic in custody again

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Tennis star Novak Djokovic has been taken into custody again. His lawyers confirmed that. The Serbian President sharply attacks the Australian Prime Minister.

Novak Djokovic will probably remain in police custody until Sunday. Only then will there be another hearing. Djokovic’s visa was canceled for the second time on Friday and he appealed. On Saturday morning (local time) he had to appear at the local police station. According to media reports and his lawyers, he is still being held in custody at a location that has not been made public. Two border guards are to guard him around the clock. But he can meet with his lawyers.

On Saturday morning (local time) there was a formal court hearing at which Djokovic did not appear, only his lawyer. Judge David O’Callaghan ruled that lawyers for the athlete and the government must produce all documents by Saturday night. The question remains whether there will continue to be only one judge or a panel of judges.

If the latter is the case, the Australian government can no longer appeal a decision. The case has now been moved from family court to federal court. The next hearing will take place on Sunday morning. Djokovic’s lawyer, Paul Holdenson, also agreed that the court documents would be made public.

The Australian government argued, according to court documents, that the unvaccinated tennis player’s presence in the country could “encourage anti-vaccination sentiment”. Immigration Minister Alex Hawke justified the cancellation of Djokovic’s visa on “reasons of health and public order”.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić speaks of a “harassment” in the treatment of tennis player Novak Djokovic in Australia. In a video on Instagram, he asked Australian media reports why Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was “harassing” Novak Djokovic and questioning his motives.

In a four-minute video posted to Instagram, titled “Support for Novak Djokovic and response to Australian Prime Minister,” President Vučić stated that it was impossible for him not to comment on the events surrounding Djokovic.

In the short video, addressing Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, he said: “If you wanted to ban Novak Djokovic from winning the (Australia Open) trophy for the 10th time, why didn’t you send him back immediately, why didn’t you have him said it’s impossible to get a visa?”, adding, “Why do you mistreat him, why do you torment him, his family and a nation that is free and proud?”

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic during a speech (archive image): He supports tennis player Novak Djokovic.  (Source: imago images)Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic during a speech (archive image): He supports tennis player Novak Djokovic. (Source: imago images)

Djokovic has not been vaccinated, and strict rules have also applied to the local population in Australia since the beginning of the pandemic. In his speech, Vučić lamented the “pressure that Serbia is under”. But the Serbs were “not able to take away their dignity and pride” in their history. The President concluded his speech with the words: “Long live Serbia! Novak, Serbia is with you!”

President Vučić had already spoken up when Djokovic had problems entering the country. “The whole of Serbia is behind him,” he wrote on Instagram after a phone call with the athlete and assured that he would personally find a solution.

After discussions about the authenticity of the PCR test presented by Novak Djokovic, a member of the Corona crisis team there has now spoken up. According to Australian media reports, Zoran Gojkovic confirmed to journalists that the test was real.

“With the risk of being sued by Novak Djokovic, because all the medical records that someone has are their personal property…I can tell you that after the records were released, we…analyzed the document that it what is absolutely valid is that it was issued by the competent authority of the state of Serbia. For us, the story is clear,” he is quoted as saying.

Asked why it had taken so long for Djokovic to get his result, he said: “Ask Novak Djokovic that, not me, it’s not a question to me when he reads his emails.”

Djokovic also gets support from a completely different quarter: Prince Filip and Princess Danica Karadjordjevic, the son and daughter-in-law of Aleksandar Karadjordjevic, the crown prince of the former Yugoslavia, have published a message on Facebook stating that it is “becoming more and more obvious that the ‘free world’ takes the path of tyranny”.

The Spanish tennis pro Rafael Nadal is a bit fed up with the ongoing issue of Novak Djokovic before the start of the Australian Open and demands answers in the cause. “In my opinion, there are many questions that need to be answered in this case. I think it would be good if everything would be clarified soon,” said the sixth in the world rankings in Melbourne on Saturday and explained that from his point of view it was important to talk about the sport.

It is clear that Djokovic is one of the best tennis players in history. “But no tennis player in history is more important than the event,” said the 35-year-old. “If he plays in the end, ok. If he doesn’t play, the Australian Open will be great Australian Open – with or without him.”

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