'Scandalous!' Djokovic dad talks 'assassination attempt' as Novak leaves Australia

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'Scandalous!' Djokovic dad talks 'assassination attempt' as Novak leaves Australia
© PA Novak Djokovic

The unvaccinated World No 1 flew out of Melbourne airport after federal agents escorted him to his plane. His departure came after he lost his legal fight against the authorities’ decision to withdraw his visa to enter the country and defend his title at the Australian Open, on account of his unvaccinated status. Last night tennis fans and sports pundits said the bombshell will overshadow the tournament – while family, friends and supporters in Djokovic’s native Serbia aired their fury.

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His father Srdjan Djokovic said the Australians’ “scandalous behaviour” amounted to an attempt on his life. “The assassination attempt on the best sportsman in the world is over, 50 bullets to Novak’s chest, after all,” he said. Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic accused the “Orwellian” Australians of trying to “humiliate” the six-time Wimbledon winner, 34, and lying about the number of unvaccinated Serbs.

He said sarcastically: “Thank you to the Australian people as I am sure they love Serbs”, adding: “They think they have humiliated Djokovic, but they have humiliated themselves and he can return to his country and look everyone in the eyes with his head held high.”

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He continued: “You saw in the pointless court proceeding how much the prosecution lied… They say there are fewer than 50 percent vaccinated people in Serbia and officially the number is 58 percent. Don’t forget that’s higher than in many EU countries. That was a pointless argument, but that’s what is possible in Orwellian performances.”

Backing the sportsman, the Serbian Olympic Committee said: “We are proud of Novak Djokovic and the way he coped with these extremely difficult and unpleasant circumstances. Despite the scandalous decision, we believe Novak came out as the winner.”

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Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed the decision, saying it would “keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe”. He added: “It’s time to get on with the Australian Open and get back to enjoying tennis over the summer.”

The saga came to an end after Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used ministerial powers to cancel Djokovic’s visa following a “unanimous decision” by the Federal Court. Mr Hawke said the athlete “posed a risk to country’s health and good order” – and his decision was upheld by Chief Justice James Allsop, Justice Anthony Besanko and Justice David O’Callaghan just three hours later.

It is understood Djokovic departed early yesterday with his coaching team and advisers on the 13-hour Emirates flight EK409 to Dubai. Witnesses spotted the star, who had been staying at an immigration detention hotel, at the airport yesterday morning.

Djokovic now faces a three-year ban from travelling to Australia for the tournament he has won nine times. His absence means the Open will be won by someone other than him or the injured Roger Federer for the first time in nearly a decade.

Former World No 1 Boris Becker, who used to coach Djokovic, said: “You cannot make people love you and that’s been the situation a little bit. He’s a fine young sportsman with the right attitude and the right character, he just has a different view on life… on how he eats, how he drinks, how he sleeps. That’s where you can’t criticise him.”

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