Novak Djokovic’s wife breaks silence on Australian Open visa fiasco

Novak Djokovic's mother: Australia keeping him prisoner

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Novak Djokovic’s wife has commented on his visa issues for the first time, which have dominated headlines in recent days. The world No 1 landed in Melbourne after receiving a medical exemption to compete in the Australian Open but had his visa cancelled upon arrival and is now staying in a government detention hotel until his appeal hearing on Monday.

Djokovic announced on Tuesday that he was flying to Melbourne for the upcoming Australian Open after receiving an “exemption permission”, later confirmed to be a medical exemption by Tennis Australia.

Tennis Australia said the nine-time Aussie Open champion’s exemption was granted “following a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts,” with applications assessed in line with the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) guidelines.

But the announcement sparked outrage in Australia, with locals sharing their frustration at the world No 1 being granted the same freedoms as fully vaccinated members of the public – with the Serb having not disclosed his jab status.

Australian Border Force then discovered an “issue” with Djokovic’s visa as it was reported that a member of his team applied for the “wrong type” for the Serb which did not cover medical exemptions, and he was escorted to an airport room and questioned overnight upon arriving in Melbourne late on Wednesday.

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The 20-time Major champion then had his visa cancelled on Thursday morning, having provided “minimal evidence” for his exemption, supported by just one doctor, and being unable to give border officials and the Victorian government more proof when asked.

“The ABF can confirm that Mr Djokovic failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia, and his visa has been subsequently cancelled,” border officials announced on Thursday.

“Non-citizens who do not hold a valid visa on entry or who have had their visa cancelled will be detained and removed from Australia.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also confirmed the news, saying: “Mr Djokovic’s visa has been cancelled. Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders. No one is above these rules. Our strong border policies have been critical to Australia having one of the lowest death rates in the world from COVID, we are continuing to be vigilant.”

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With Djokovic now spending Serbian Orthodox Christmas in a quarantine hotel, where he is being kept until an appeal hearing on Monday, his wife has now spoken out for the first time.

“It’s Christmas today for us, my wishes are for everyone to be healthy, happy, safe and together with families. We wish we are all together today, but my consolation is that at least we are healthy. And we will grow from this experience,” Jelena Djokovic wrote in an Instagram post on Friday, alongside a photo showing herself with husband Novak.

“Thank you dear people, all around the world for using your voice to send love to my husband.”

The 35-year-old, who has two children with the 20-time Grand Slam champion, also said she was trying to find “understanding” as her husband faces deportation from Australia if his appeal is not successful.

She continued: “I am taking a deep breath to calm down and find gratitude (and understanding) in this moment for all that is happening.

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A post shared by Jelena Djokovic (@jelenadjokovicndf)

“The only law that we should all respect across every single border is Love and respect for another human being. Love and forgiveness is never a mistake but a powerful force. Wishing you all well!”

Her words come after Djokovic’s parents held a press conference in Serbia, claiming he was being treated like a “prisoner”.

“They’re keeping him as a prisoner, it’s just not fair, it’s not human,” Dijana Djokovic told reporters, also slamming the government quarantine hotel her son was staying in.

“Terrible. Terrible accommodation. It’s just some small immigration hotel, if it’s a hotel at all, with some bugs. It’s all dirty and the food is so terrible as well.

“What can I say? They don’t want to give him any chance to move on to some better hotel or house, which he has already rented.”

Meanwhile, Djokovic awaits the resumption of his appeal hearing, set to take place at 10am local time on Monday after court was adjourned late on Thursday.

If he is successful, he will be able to play the Australian Open which begins a week later, but if the decision stands he will be deported and unable to compete for a record 21st Major title.

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