Serbia Is Not Happy With Australia Right Now

Leaders call Novak Djokovic's deportation a 'farce'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2022 12:21 AM CST
Updated Jan 17, 2022 6:54 AM CST
Serbian Leaders Lash Out at Australia Over Novak Djokovic
A mural depicting Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic on a wall in Belgrade, Serbia, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022.   (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

(Newser) Update: Tennis star Novak Djokovic arrived back home in Serbia on Monday after Australia gave him the boot for being unvaccinated, reports CNN. Djokovic, who was not allowed to play in the Australian Open, is technically barred from the country for three years, though Australian officials made clear he could apply for an exemption in the future. The next looming question: Will Djokovic miss the French Open, too? That grand slam is scheduled for May, and French officials say no exemptions will be granted, per ESPN. It's possible, however, the rule will be lifted by then. Our earlier story from Monday morning follows:

Novak Djokovic arrived in Dubai on Monday after being deported from Australia Sunday night, and his home country is not happy about the situation. Serbia's prime minister called the tennis star's treatment "scandalous," noting, "I find it unbelievable that we have two completely contradictory court decisions within the span of just a few days." She said, per the Guardian, that is shows "how the rule of law is functioning—or better to say not functioning—in some other countries." The country's president, meanwhile, called the whole thing a "farce," and wondered why Australia had chosen to create "theater" after the Australian Open had granted Djokovic an exemption to its vaccination rules.

He said 90% of Serbs are on Djokovic's side, and that authorities "think they humiliated Djokovic, the best player in the world, with this 10-day harassment, [but] they humiliated themselves." If he was not from Serbia, the president added, he likely would have been treated differently. The Serbian tennis association echoed the word "farce" and blamed the "political interests of powerful individuals" for the whole thing, while the country's sports minister called the situation "nonsense and shame, absurdity and hypocrisy." The leader of the far-right opposition party called for the Australian ambassador to be chased out of Serbia. As for Djokovic, it was not clear where he planned to travel from Dubai, the AP reports. And as for who might win the tournament now, ESPN has more on that. (Read more Novak Djokovic stories.)

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