The president of Serbia has lashed out at Australia after national hero Novak
Djokovic lost his 11 day legal battle to stay and compete in the Australian Open.
The unvaccinated tennis star will likely fly home in a few hours, prompting his
nation’s leader Aleksandar Vucic to accuse Scott Morrison of playing politics ahead of
an upcoming election.
Mr Vucic accused Australian government lawyers of ‘lying’ during ‘pointless’ court
proceedings when they stated less than half of Serbians were vaccinated.
‘You saw in the pointless court proceeding how much the prosecution lied,’ he said.
‘They are simply lying. They say there are fewer than 50 per cent vaccinated people in
Serbia and officially the number is 58 per cent.
Don’t forget that’s higher than in many European Union countries. That was a
pointless argument, but that’s possible in Orwellian performances.’
Mr Vucic said Australian athletes would be treated better when they arrived in Serbia
for an athletics event in March and ‘and we won’t mistreat them due to elections.’
The president said he had given Djokovic his full support and told him he ‘could not
wait’ for the tennis star to return to Serbia where he was always welcome.
‘To mistreat the best tennis player for 11 days, and on the 11th day hand him the
decision made on the first day…’ he said, Serbian publication Novosti reports.
‘Thank you to the Australian people as I am sure they love Serbs. 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.’
It comes after Djokovic confirmed he will not compete in the Australian Open on
Monday and was set to be deported, recently being spotted at Melbourne Airport.
Chief Justice James Allsop, Justice Anthony Besanko and Justice David O’Callaghan
unanimously decided Djokovic did not have grounds to dispute Immigration Minister
Alex Hawke’s deportation order – meaning he could face a three-year ban from
travelling to Australia again.
Stephen Lloyd, for the Minister, on Sunday noted vaccination rates in Djokovic’s
home country of Serbia were significantly lower than in Australia, indicating the
tennis star was a ‘talisman’ of anti-vax sentiment.
Mr Lloyd argued this demonstrated the Minister’s belief that Djokovic could be seen
to influence his fans based on his own perceived stance on vaccines and ‘may foster
anti-vaccination sentiment in Australia’.
Djokovic’s high-powered legal team, led by Nick Wood SC, took issue with Mr Hawke’s
reasoning for cancelling the visa, which was primarily a result of his decision not to
get vaccinated against Covid.
They rebuffed statements Djokovic has ‘a well-known stance on vaccination’.
Mr Wood argued comments the tennis star made about vaccines in April 2020 which
have been used to justify the Minister’s decision are not necessarily relevant.
They say Djokovic insisted he was ‘not an expert’ and would do what was best for his
body, after indicating he wouldn’t want to be ‘forced’ to take a Covid vaccine well
before a jab to protect against the virus had even been developed.