Serbia’s prime minister is among a chorus of his supporters who have blasted Australia’s decision to deport tennis star Novak Djokovic for being unvaccinated, calling his treatment “scandalous.”
Djokovic, 34, left Australia on Sunday after a panel of three judges ruled that the decision by Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke to cancel his visa could stand. As such, Djokovic will be unable to play in the Australian Grand Slam tournament this week.
“I think the court decision is scandalous,” Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić told reporters in Belgrade, according to The Guardian. “I find it unbelievable that we have two completely contradictory court decisions within the span of just a few days.”
A prior court ruling had determined that Djokovic could stay in the country, however Hawke said on Friday that he had decided to cancel Djokovic’s visa again, saying it was within the public’s interest.
“I think it demonstrated how the rule of law is functioning, or better to say not functioning, in some other countries,” Brnabić added of the ruling, according to Reuters. “In any case, I can hardly wait to see Novak Djokovic in our own country, in Serbia.”
Djokovic said he was “disappointed” by the decision, but added “I respect the Court’s ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country.”
In a statement on Sunday, his family said they were also disappointed by the court’s decision.
“Despite the scandalous behaviour towards Novak, we believed that the sport would win,” they said according to Reuters, adding the court’s decision was about “politics and all (other) interests.”
The Serbian Tennis Association in a statement lamented that “politics has beaten sport.”
“Novak Djokovic…has been denied an opportunity to win a milestone 10th title (in Australia). Political pressure has led to the revocation of his visa to satisfy ‘public interest’,” it said, according to Reuters.