Djokovic labels Australia travel saga ‘unfortunate’
Novak Djokovic said on Thursday that his detention and deportation from Australia, which prevented him from competing in the Australian Open, were “unfortunate,” according to The Associated Press.
Djokovic, who met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, also called the saga “unexpected.”
“I wanted to meet with you today because, primarily as a citizen of Serbia, I felt a great need to thank you for great support that you, as the president of Serbia, gave me, as well as all state institutions during the unfortunate events in Australia,” Djokovic said to Vucic, according to the AP.
“Although I was alone in detention, and faced with many problems and challenges, I wasn’t feeling lonely. I had huge support primarily from my family, all of the close people in my life, entire Serbian nation, many people with good intentions from the region and the world.”
Djokovic was denied permission to enter Australia because of the nation’s vaccine requirements. He had submitted a prior positive COVID-19 test for exemption from the vaccine requirements, as he had recently recovered from the virus. However, because he was unvaccinated, Australian officials decided to cancel his visa.
Djokovic was criticized by some fans for meeting with Vucic, who has been accused of autocratic rule, the AP noted, adding that critics of the president say he used the meeting with the popular tennis star to boost his own standing ahead of the April elections.