Fellow and former tennis players are weighing in after Novak Djokovic was denied ato play in the Australian Open. Among them was Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios, who called his country's treatment of Djokovic "really bad."
"Look I definitely believe in taking action, I got vaccinated because of others and for my mums health, but how we are handling Novak's situation is bad, really bad," he tweeted Friday. "Like these memes, headlines, this is one of our great champions but at the end of the day, he is human. Do better."
Djokovic also received support from American tennis player John Isner, who said what he's going through is "not right."
"There's no justification for the treatment he's receiving," the men's 24th-ranked tennis player tweeted. "He followed the rules, was allowed to enter Australia, and now he's being detained against his own will. This is such a shame."
On Tuesday, Djokovic BBC.that he had been granted a medical exemption to compete in the Open — a decision that quickly sparked backlash in Australia, where strict COVID-19 restrictions are in place. In the city of Melbourne, residents have spent more than 260 days under lockdown since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the
But when Djokovic arrived in the country on Wednesday, officials realized that his team had applied for a type of visa that does not permit COVID-19 vaccine exemptions, Reuters reported. After hours of waiting, Australia's border force said his because he "failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia."
In a statement after the decision, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeted "rules are rules."
Djokovic was taken to Melbourne's Park Hotel, where other government detainees, refugees and asylum seekers are also held, Reuters reported. Since then, Djokovic's family, the Serbian president and his supporters in Australia and Serbia have protested his accommodations.
In response to the criticism, Karen Andrews, Australia's home affairs minister, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that Djokovic is no prisoner.
"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."
Djokovic will have to stay in the hotel until Monday, when his lawyers will appeal the decision to cancel his visa in front of a federal judge.
Djokovic's former coach Boris Becker wrote in a Daily Mail column that he had urged him to get vaccinated — and was unsure if he'd change his mind.
"The same incredible determination which I saw win so many close matches can be a vulnerability with his stubbornness," the former German tennis star said.
"Will Novak take that step? I am not sure that he will," he added.
Djokovic has not publicly disclosed whether he is vaccinated against COVID-19, but he didhis opposition to mandatory vaccination in the past.
Djokovic's rival and Spanish star Rafael Nadal said he felt sorry for him.
"At the same time, he knew the conditions since a lot of months ago, so he makes his own decision," Nadal said Thursday, according to Reuters.
On Friday, Djokovic thanked those who have stood by him in a message on Instagram.
"Thank you to people around the world for your continuous support," he wrote. "I can feel it and it is greatly appreciated."
Djokovic has nine Australian Open titles, and he won the last three. He is currently in a three-way tie with tennis greats Roger Federer andfor the most Grand Slam singles titles.
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