World tennis star Novak Djokovic addressed his first words of thanks to “people around the world” who came out to support him, after two days of being detained by Australian authorities.

Novak entered the country to participate in the Australian Open tournament, but the airport authorities ignored the health exemption that covered him, and demanded another permit that exempted him from declaring his vaccination status against COVID-19, which he did not carry, according to The Sun on April 7. 

The battle-hardened tennis player addressed his followers in a message via Instagram, writing, “Thank you to people around the world for your continuous support. I can feel it, and it is greatly appreciated.”

He added via another medium, “Thank you to my family, Serbia and all the good people around the world who send me their support. Thank you, dear God, for the health you give me.”

His heartfelt message came out during Orthodox Christmas celebrations, as Christmas Day is celebrated on 7th January every year across Serbia.

Likewise, his wife Jelena, 35, asked for “love and forgiveness” in the face of rising tensions in the sports world, adding, “Thank you dear people, all around the world for using your voice to send love to my husband.”

She also stated, “The one law that we should all respect across all borders is love and respect for another human being.”

Djokovic, who was bidding to win his 21st Grand Slam title, had his phone taken away and was kept isolated in the room at the Park Hotel, “a filthy ‘flea and worm’ hotel in Melbourne” with armed police patrolling outside.

For his part, a judge ruled that only until Jan. 10 at 10 a.m. Melbourne time, the capital of the state of Victoria in southeastern Australia, will his case be decided. 

Although Djokovic reserves the right to declare whether he has been vaccinated or not, it is believed that he has not, judging by the statements issued in 2020 when he said: “Personally, I am opposed to vaccination and I wouldn’t want to be forced to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel,” according to The Sun.

The country’s Home Secretary, Karen Andrews, affirmed that he was not in prison and that he could leave as soon as he wished, however, he prefers to wait for the judicial results of his case. 

The cancellation of Djokovic’s visa has been the source of many protests and complaints. For Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, this act evidenced “abusive behavior” and he demanded his release.

“I just finished a phone call with Novak Djokovic,” Vucic said, adding, “I told Novak that all of Serbia was with him. We are doing everything to end this abuse as soon as possible,” according to Sport Global on Jan. 6. 

He also wrote on Instagram, “By all standards of international law, Serbia will fight for Novak Djokovic, with justice and truth. Moreover, we all know that Novak is very strong.”

In this context, the tennis player’s father was less diplomatic and spoke of him as the “symbol and the leader of the free world”, and the “Spartacus” of a new world, one that “does not tolerate injustice, colonialism and hypocrisy”.

He also stated, “My son Novak Djokovic has shown that a small, but heroic country like Serbia, can have the best tennis player and sportsman of all time and that truth can no longer be hidden”.

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