Serbian PM vows to help national hero Djokovic in Australia visa fight

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Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic threw the weight of her government behind national idol Novak Djokovic on Saturday, vowing that it stood ready to provide all necessary guarantees to allow the tennis champion to enter Australia.

Djokovic, a vocal opponent of vaccine man-dates, has been holed up in a Melbourne hotel since Thursday after his visa was cancelled due to prob-lems with the medical exemption from vaccination granted by the organisers of the Australian Open.

“He’s staying in Park Hotel until the final deci-sion is made,” Brnabic told Serbian media.

“We’ve managed to make sure gluten-free food is delivered to him, as well as exercising tools, a laptop and a SIM card so that he is able to be in contact with his family.”

Djokovic, who is seeking to win a record 21st Grand Slam title at the tournament this month, said in a legal challenge on Saturday that he had been given the medical exemption because he had con-tracted COVID-19 last month.

A court hearing will be held on Monday over the visa cancellation.

The drama has already be-come a diplomatic issue, with Serbia accusing Aus-tralia of treating Djokovic, 34, like a prisoner.

It has also become a flashpoint for opponents of vaccine mandates around the world.

Brnabic said she had also spoken with Austra-lian government officials and that the talks had been constructive.

“It’s a positive tone from the Australian side.

The Serbian government is ready to provide all the guarantees necessary for Novak to be allowed to enter Australia, the Serbian president (Aleksandar Vucic) is also involved,” she added.

Serbian Parliament speaker Ivica Dacic also threw his support behind the tennis world number one.

“Novak is already a winner, it’s obvious that they won’t let him play so that he is unable to be-come the best tennis player in history,” he told RTS state TV.

—Reuters

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