- BBC News World
Novak Djokovic, the world’s number one tennis player, has spoken for the first time since the controversy broke out over his participation in the Australian Open.
In a message published in the “stories” of his Instagram account on Friday, the player thanked people around the world for the support received while waiting for a decision on your possible deportation from Australia.
“Thank you to people around the world for your continued support. I can feel it and appreciate it tremendously.”
Djokovic, 34, landed this week to play at the Australian Open, having received a controversial exemption from vaccination rules from that country.
But despite the waiver, Australian Border Force officials denied him entry into Melbourne airport for failing to provide “adequate evidence.”
Djokovic has been at the center of the controversy, not only because he could well be deported in a court decision that will take place next Monday.
The Serbian player has been questioned for his critical position regarding vaccines. In April 2020, long before covid vaccines became available, Djokovic said he was opposed to vaccination.
He has also said that he keeps an “open mind” but wants to have “the option to choose what is best” for his body.
During a Facebook Live, he explained that he would not like “to be forced by someone to get vaccinated” to travel or compete in tournaments.
The waiver was granted by two independent medical panels organized by Tennis Australia, the body that runs the event, and the state of Victoria. The decision infuriated many Australians, which continue to face heavy restrictions to prevent covid from spreading.
For now, Djokovic is being held in an immigrant hotel that has often been criticized by refugees for its poor conditions. Serbia has demanded that the player be transferred to a better hotel.
In an interview with Channel 9 on Friday, Australian Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews denied that Djokovic is being held captive, adding that the tennis star “is free to leave at any time.”
The Australian Open will begin on January 17. Djokovic aspired to win the tournament for the tenth time, which would make him the Most successful male player, with 21 Grand Slams.
Another player, Czech Renata Voracova, also had her Australian visa canceled, the Czech government said.
The Foreign Office said she was being held at the same facility as Djokovic, but would leave the Australian Open and leave the country.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.