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Serbia President reacts to Djokovic's cancelled visa


Serbian President Aleksander Vucic has gone into bat for Novak Djokovic, accusing Australian authorities of scoring political points and “mistreating” his nation’s beloved tennis star.

Djokovic will be taken into custody on Saturday morning after a court hearing late on Friday night, the result of Immigration Minister Alex Hawke cancelling the Serbian’s visa just hours earlier.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion won his court battle on Monday, but a statement from Djokovic during the week revealed new information that further hampered his likelihood of staying in Australia

He admitted to doing an interview with a journalist despite knowing he was COVID positive while in Serbia, despite the requirement for a 14-day quarantine period in the country.

Mr. Vucic did not address that offence in his four-minute video statement via Instagram, instead throwing his support behind the world No. 1.

“Why are you mistreating him, why are you taking it out not only on him but also on his family and the whole nation,” said Mr. Vucic.

“If you wanted to forbid Novak Djokovic to win the (Australian Open) trophy for the 10th time, why didn't you return him immediately, why didn't you tell him that it was impossible to get a visa?” Mr. Vucic began, via the ABC.

“Why do you mistreat him, why do you torture him, as well as his family and (a) nation that is free and proud?

“Is all this necessary to win the elections and please your public?

“A president of a small country has appeared who has the courage to say that to one great prime minister of a large country — I can because I'm telling the truth and you know I'm telling the truth.

“They often preach to us about the rule of law.

“You can imagine what it would look like if a minister in Serbia annulled court decisions.

“They showed us what an independent judiciary looks like, but they also showed us what an irrelevant judiciary looks like, because all the power there is in the hands of the executive.

“We will fight for Novak Djokovic and the fact that you will harass him for a day, two or five more will not change the sentiments of our people towards the people of Australia that we highly respect and appreciate, but also our opinion about Novak Djokovic.

“You can write hundreds of thousands of worst articles about Djokovic, he will remain the greatest tennis player of all time, and we will firmly keep him in our hearts.

“And you who think that you are achieving something by harassing him, you will never reach not only Novak Djokovic, but any ordinary man, both of our and your proud and dignified people.

“Long live Serbia, Novak, we are with you.”

Mr. Vucic released a similar statement last week when Djokovic's visa was originally cancelled, but has added more weight to his words this time around as the situation heats up.

Djokovic is set to be in the Federal Court over Saturday and Sunday as his team fights to keep him in the country and hopes alive of winning a fourth consecutive Australian Open.

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