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Serbian president denounces ‘political witch hunt’ of Djokovic


Belgrade (AFP) – Novak Djokovic is a victim of a ‘political witch hunt’ claimed Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic on Thursday after Australian authorities said he failed to meet stringent pandemic entry requirements.

The 34-year-old world number one’s lawyers are appealing the decision which if it fails would see him deported from Australia.

The vaccine-sceptic Djokovic was detained on arrival at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport having failed to “provide appropriate evidence” of double vaccination or a medical exemption.

Djokovic had jetted into Melbourne on Wednesday having been granted a medical exemption by the Australian Open organisers.

He was hoping to defend his Australian Open crown and claim an unprecedented 21st Grand Slam title.

Vucic, though, claimed Djokovic was being hounded as other tennis players had been permitted to enter Australia with medical exemptions.

“What is not fair-play is the political witch hunt (being conducted against Novak), by everybody including the Australian Prime Minister pretending that the rules apply to all,” Vucic told the media.

Vucic said the Australian ambassador had been contacted twice by Serbian authorities and Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabic will be in touch with a senior member of Australia’s Home Affairs department.

The Serbians will ask the Australian authorities that at the very least Djokovic can stay, whilst his appeal is heard, in the house in Melbourne he had rented for the Australian Open (which runs from January 17 to January 30) and not in the hotel he has been sent to.

Vucic described Djokovic’s treatment as being “infamous in the proper sense of the term.”

“I fear that this relentless political pursuit of Novak will continue until the moment they can prove something, because when you cannot defeat somebody then you turn to these type of things,” said Vucic.

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