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7 Jan, 2022 02:51

Australia says quarantined Djokovic ‘free to leave’ country at any time

The tennis star is not a captive and can return to Serbia at any time, Canberra insists
Australia says quarantined Djokovic ‘free to leave’ country at any time

Australian Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews has said that Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic is free to depart Australia at any time after he was detained in a quarantine facility for not being vaccinated against Covid-19.

Djokovic – who arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday to compete at the Australian Open – had his visa canceled and was detained by officers after the country reversed a vaccine exemption that the state of Victoria and Tennis Australia had granted him.

The player has since been detained at a ‘quarantine hotel’ for refugees and his treatment has sparked condemnation from the Serbian government and hordes of his fans. Djokovic is appealing against the Australian government’s move and is scheduled to have a court hearing on Monday, just a week before the tournament is set to begin on January 17.

In a statement on Friday, Andrews attempted to curb discontent and dismiss allegations that Djokovic was being “held captive” in Australia, claiming he was free to leave the country at any time.

“Mr. Djokovic is not being held captive in Australia, he is free to leave at any time that he chooses to do so and Border Force will actually facilitate that,” Andrews said, accusing Djokovic of failing to have the “necessary documentation that is needed to enter Australia” by not having proof of vaccination.

Djokovic’s family claimed that Australia’s treatment of the tennis ace was akin to “trampling on the Serbian people” and accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government of being a “political oligarchy.”

In her own statement, Djokovic’s wife Jelena expressed sadness at being separated from her husband during Orthodox Christmas and said “love and respect” should be observed “across every single border.”