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6 Jan, 2022 18:37

Djokovic family says tennis star ‘crucified’ & Serbs ‘trampled on’

Novak Djokovic's family have hit out at the treatment of the Serbian tennis star as his Melbourne detention continues
Djokovic family says tennis star ‘crucified’ & Serbs ‘trampled on’

Novak Djokovic's family have held a press conference at a Belgrade during which they hit out at the Australian Border Force's move to refuse his entry to the country.

Djokovic remains in isolation at a Melbourne hotel designated for the detention of refugees and asylum seekers after his immigration status was refused despite being awarded a medical exemption by Tennis Australia chiefs to compete at this month's Australian Open, where he was seeking a fourth straight crown and a record 21st Grand Slam victory. 

The Serb is set to learn his fate at a hearing on Monday where he will learn if he is to be deported from Australia or if he will be handed a special dispensation to play the event, which begins on January 17. 

But before the matter finds its resolution, Djokovic's family said at a press event on Thursday that the treatment of the tennis star is "trampling on the Serbian people."

Srdjan Djokovic, a figure known in tennis circles for being an outspoken defender of his son, claimed that the world number one was being "crucified" in a similar way way to Jesus.

"Our Novak, our pride. Novak is Serbia and Serbia is Novak," Srdjan Djokovic told the assembled media. 

"They are trampling over Serbia and by doing that, they are trampling on the Serbian people. 

"The leader of that faraway land, Scott Morrison … dared to attack Novak and expel him before he had reached their country. They had wanted to throw him to his knees, and not just him, but our beautiful Serbia.

"We Serbs are a proud European people. Throughout history, we have never attacked anyone, we only defended ourselves.


"That is what Novak, our pride, our Serb, the pride of the entire free world, is now doing by his behavior towards hosts and [tournament] organizers across the world, showing what kind of people he comes from.

"We Serbs are a proud people, who are proud of our [the] light at the end of the tunnel, and that is our Novak. That political oligarchy will not extinguish it."

The support from the Djokovic family has also been mirrored in Melbourne itself, where crowds of supporters of the world number one gathered outside the hotel he is being forced to stay at. 

The hotel in question has been the source of several protests recently regarding the conditions afforded to asylum seekers and refugees, amid reports of maggot-infested food, Covid-19 outbreaks and even several fires. 

Grafitti seen outside the entrance alleged that 'torture' takes place within its doors. 

Djordje Djokovic, the tennis star's brother, also spoke at the press event where he described the treatment of Novak as as being a "sporting and diplomatic scandal."

"He had the same document as several tennis players who are already in Australia,” he alleged.

"Novak and his team had no way of contacting federal authorities. The only way to make contact was via Tennis Australia, as they have a partner relationship with the authorities. Novak didn’t apply, Tennis Australia did."

Djordje Djokovic then hit out at the conditions of the hotel: "He was taken to a migrant hotel to a dirty room without any belongings, which he was told would be returned to him upon his return to Europe.

"He was treated like a criminal while he is a healthy and decent man and a sportsman who has not endangered anyone’s life and has not committed any federal or legal offense."

Srdjan Djokovic again spoke, this time addressing Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison directly.

"You, famous Prime Minister of the faraway naturally beautiful country, are behaving according to your own principles, which have nothing to do with us and our principles," he said.

"We are humans, and you, sir, are not."


Djokovic's mother Dijana, meanwhile, was also highly angered by the treatment of her son and referred to him as a "revolutionary" who was "changing the world."

"I hope they won’t clip his wings as they had intended,” she stated. "We will give him power and energy with prayers and kind messages to remain true to himself."