The Office of the Serbian Orthodox Bishop of Australia and New Zealand has issued a statement condemning Australia’s decision to deport tennis star Novak Djokovic over his Covid-19 vaccination status.
It comes as the tennis number one lost a court appeal against the decision to cancel his visa on Sunday. The unanimous ruling by a three-judge Federal Court bench dealt a final blow to Djokovic's hopes of chasing a record 21st Grand Slam win at the Australian Open that starts on Monday.
The Serbian Orthodox Church of Australia and New Zealand felt it was “necessary to express our profound disappointment in our government’s handling of Novak’s case,” and requested an immediate repeal of the decision.
“Being kept in isolation, having one’s phone confiscated, being stripped of any means of communication, and subjected to an on-the-spot interrogation in the small hours of the morning after a twenty-five (25) hour flight is treatment most would deem unfit for most fugitives. We feel the need to remind Mr Hawke and the Australian Government that Novak is a professional tennis player, not a racketeer.
“We commend Novak’s grace and tolerance in the face of our government’s capricious exercise of unashamed overstepping.
“We request that Mr Hawke, as an exercise of good sense reassess, the Ministry’s position and repeal the decision to cancel Novak’s visa immediately. We trust that a written apology would also go a long way to remedying this mess.
“We pray that our Lord grants strength and courage to Novak, his family and his team,” the statement reads.
The Serbian Orthodox Church of Australia and New Zealand has expressed its support for Djokovic after he was denied a request to see an Orthodox priest during the Orthodox Christmas when he was first detained on 5th January.