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Orthodox leaders claim Novak Djokovic was prevented from seeing a priest while in detention

by Sophie Drew
Novak Djokovic banner.JPG - Banner image

The Serbian Orthodox Church is protesting against Australia’s decision to ban religious visits to detainees like Novak Djokovic. The tennis champion was detained during the Orthodox Christmas, during which he was not allowed to see a priest. 

The Serbian-born player is a member of the Orthodox Christian faith and wears a wooden cross during matches. He was detained on Wednesday, January 5, just two days before Christmas. 

It’s suggested that the 34-year-old requested to see a priest but was rejected. 

The Serbian Orthodox leader, Patriarch Porfirije, shared a post on Instagram in support of Djokovic, saying: “Only a pale shadow will remain of the troubles and tribulations you are going through this Christmas.”

“Millions of Orthodox Serbs are praying for you, as you pray for us. May the imperishable warmth and love of the Bethlehem manger warm and strengthen your heart and soul.”

Australia has some of the strictest entry requirements in the world, and is currently only allowing vaccinated visitors, or those that have already tested positive for the coronavirus and have since recovered.

Djokovic was detained due to discrepencies with his entry forms, resulting in him having his visa cancelled. He says that the issues were the result of "human error" and  has been released.

He has been allowed to gain entry to Australia despite being unvaccinated because he has already had the coronavirus, it has been confirmed. 

However, the announcement fulled further debate after it was found that he had met with a journalist whilst testing positive for the virus - a mistake he called "an error of judgement". 

The tennis player and vaccine-sceptic has become the face of the ever-deepening political divide over coronavirus jabs. People have taken to the streets in Melbourne and Belgrade to show their support following his detention. 

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