• Australian Border Force took Novak Djokovic’s cellphone, and he was denied any communication with his family for 3.5 hours. 
  • Novak Djokovic is staying under police guard at the “migrants accommodation” in a “filthy room,” and all of his personal possessions have been taken away from him.
  • The court ordered the Australian authorities that the tennis champion of the world cannot be deported before Monday morning.
  • In the meantime, Djokovic has resigned to fight the good fight, sharing with his brother, “God sees everything. My grace is spiritual and theirs is material wealth.”

This scandal, fusing politics, sports, and diplomacy, is shaking the world stage. The news broke yesterday that the Serbian citizen, tennis world champion Novak Djokovic is being held at the Melbourne airport in Australia. During the last forty-eight hours, the topic has been dominated in the media by guesswork and inaccurate information.

FACT CHECK: It was not Novak Djokovic who applied on his own for medical exemption. The organization Tennis Australia managed these applications for all tennis players.

QUESTION: If they knew the whole time about his exemption, why did they wait until he was at the border to do something?

According to the brother of Novak Djokovic, the moment Novak landed, with all the documentation for his medical exemption in hand, border security asked him to step aside. The tennis champion of the world was taken into a small room and interrogated for hours. 

“Novak did not violate any federal law or any rule imposed by Australia,” Novak’s brother asserted, adding that, in the last month, Novak communicated with Tennis Australia, conversations which resulted in him being granted an medical exemption for the COVID-19 vaccine.

What Novak’s brother Djordje said is that Novak had the same documentation that the other tennis players had, however, “He was the only one who was kept at the border.” Further, “Novak was the only one of the tennis players to be prohibited entry into Australia.”

Djokovic’s family insists that this professional athlete followed every single protocol, as athletes are well accommodated to doing. He paid attention to mandates by the Australian authorities and has done so since November 2021. 

Timeline of Events 

  • The border police approached Djokovic upon landing, and they ushered him aside. “This is when the harassment” of the tennis champion started, according to Novak’s brother Djordje.
  • Once the border police took Novak to an isolation room, the interrogation started. “In the first 45 minutes, Novak was able to communicate with his family and his team. But then, suddenly, his cell phone was taken away from him, and he was then denied any communication with his family, wife, and the rest of his team for the next 3.5 hours.” 
  • When the police finally returned his phone to him, Novak Djokovic was taken to another isolation room, a “detention room” at the airport. 
  • Next, the decision was made that his visa would be denied, and he would be refused admittance into Australia, where he would have competed at the Australian Open.
  • Novak Djokovic was then taken through the security checkpoint, where all his possessions were taken away from him, including his luggage and wallet. He was even denied the opportunity to change his clothes. 
  • Left only with his cellphone, Novak Djokovic was transferred to “migrants accommodation” where he is staying in what he describes to be a “filthy room” without any personal possessions. The tennis star was told that his personal belongings would be returned to him once he returned to Europe. 
  • After this, Novak Djokovic’s lawyers appealed, and the court ordered the Australian authorities that they could not deport the world’s tennis champion to Europe before Monday morning.

WHAT’S THE CATCH?

The four-time world champion in tennis is being denied his opportunity to bring home a title, leaving any records that could have been broken throughout the tournament dormant. His reputation as the greatest sportsman in history is at stake, a reputation which he has built up over a lifetime.

It is a known fact that Novak’s ranking will drop significantly if he is unable to compete at the Australian Open. A testament to his talent, he runs the risk of ending up in third place if he is not able to compete.

At this point in time, Novak can leave Australia on his own. The catch is that, if he does leave, a provision banning him from entering Australia for three years would immediately come into effect. Novak does not want to do that, choosing instead to fight for justice. A fitting choice, it would seem, after following each rule to the best of his ability and still having been “treated like a criminal,” per his view. 

Court filing document

Novak’s brother said, “Novak is not only fighting for himself, but also for everyone in the world. Novak shared with him, “God sees everything. My grace is spiritual and theirs is material wealth.”

At the impromptu press conference in Belgrade, Novak’s father, Srdjan Djokovic said, “26 tennis players got the same medical exemption! Novak was not in detention – He was imprisoned. He cannot change his clothes, he cannot wash his face, they have taken away everything from him! Our family and national pride is a hostage of those scumbags. Shame on them! Free world, lovers of freedoms and liberty, rise up with Serbia! No law Novak violated, but they want to humiliate us and bring us to our knees. It won’t happen! Freedom for Novak, we are all with you!”  

Novak’s lawyers are working at the moment to assure that his rights are fully respected and that he is provided with proper accommodation conditions until he attends the ruling on Monday, which will either permit or block Novak’s participation in the championship.

WHAT DOES BORIS JOHNSON HAVE TO DO WITH IT? 

“Boris Johnson has backed the Australian government in its decision to refuse entry to Djokovic because he is unvaccinated, as Downing Street urged sports stars to accept a jab,” The Daily Telegraph reports. 

The Prime Minister said he shared the view of the “friendly” Australians, who have told the tennis superstar he must return to Europe and cannot participate in the Australian Open.

Boris Johnson has no credibility to talk about rules after breaking his own. After canceling Christmas in 2020, Johnson enjoyed  cheese and wine parties at No.10 Downing Street, seemingly convinced that the laws he enforced on the Brits do not apply to him.

Johnson has made a political alliance against Novak Djokovic, however, when he fancies a party, the stringent laws no longer apply.

Boris Johsnon can’t stand that Djokovic won Wimbledon and that a Serbian is excelling at the sport. His journalists are stamping out his talking points and, at the same time, failing to hold him to account for the actions he is taking in Britain. 

It is helpful to keep in mind that Boris Johnson’s opinions are no longer relevant. His days at No. 10 Downing Street are numbered, since not even his party wants him anymore.

Novak appeared at his hotel window for the first time, saluting the supporters gathered in front of his accommodation. The scene struck an uncanny resemblance to those of political captivity, in what is supposed to be a free world. 

When governments around the world gang up on an individual citizen – not to mention a world-renowned tennis player who has managed to make history against all odds – over a medical exemption that has legally been obtained, then it is time to stand up and speak out.

If a world champion can be humiliated and persecuted in this atmosphere, what is to be said for the ordinary citizen? With no platform to raise awareness and concern, will he or she be able to make truly autonomous decisions regarding his or her health?

We would like to think that the level of discrimination against Novak Djokovic is unacceptable by any standard of liberal democracy, and yet here we are. 

One government has initiated the attack against Djokovic, but others have stood idly by. As we saw with Boris Johnson, some are even defending the measures. The question is what interest any of these governmental bodies have in the Australian Open and Djokovic’s participation in it. Perhaps it is national pride, such as with Johnson, but in a more likely scenario, this whole charade centers around power.

In what world can a medical exemption be overridden by the government? Should certain religious communities in the US prepare for their exemptions to be rescinded, as well?

Novak Djokovic has been labeled an “anti-vaxxer,” and an authoritarian government persecutes this tennis world champion for attempting to claim the title a ninth time with a valid medical exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine.

Does anyone have the freedom to make their own health decisions in this post-COVID era?   

Novak Djokovic is fighting for truth, justice, and civil liberties. His mission to fight for the freedoms of ordinary man is now stronger than ever. 

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Ksenija Pavlovic McAteer

Ksenija Pavlovic is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Pavlovic Today, The Chief White House Correspondent. Pavlovic was a Teaching Fellow and Doctoral Fellow in the Political Science department...

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