The Australian government’s threat to deport tennis champ Novak Djokovic has sparked both praise and outcry around the world.
The incident has made international headlines and even led to a diplomatic row with Djokovic’s home country of Serbia.
From athletes to celebrities, here’s what the rest of the world thinks about Djokovic being detained before the Australian Open.
Novak Djokovic’s dad
The tennis champ’s father, Srdjan Djokovic, has repeatedly condemned the Australian government’s treatment of his son in the most poetic way possible.
“The leader of that faraway land, Scott Morrison … dared to attack Novak and expel him before he had reached their country. They had wanted to throw him to his knees, and not just him, but our beautiful Serbia,” Srdjan told reporters.
In another interview, he compared his son to Jesus on the crucifix.
The President of Serbia
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić was among the first to slam the Australian government for refusing entry to Djokovic.
“I told our Novak that the whole of Serbia is with him, and that our authorities are taking all measures to stop the harassment of the best tennis player in the world in the shortest possible period,” Mr Vučić said on Instagram.
In accordance with all norms of international public law, Serbia will fight for Novak Djokovic, for justice and truth.”
“Novak is strong, as we all know.”
The Serbian embassy in Canberra has already lobbied the Australian government to allow Djokovic to stay in the country, while Mr Vučić himself summoned Australia’s ambassador in Belgrade over the row.
Former world No.1 Rafael Nadal chose his words carefully at a press conference in Melbourne on Friday.
“The only thing that I can say is I believe in what the people who know about medicine say, and if those people say that we need to get vaccinated, we need to get the vaccine,” Nadal told reporters.
Although Nadal said he was sad about how things have panned out so far, he noted that Djokovic – who has openly opposed COVID vaccines – knew the conditions of entry into Australia for months in advance.
Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios waited for days before publicly commenting on the Djokovic saga.
Kyrgios had repeatedly slammed Djokovic throughout the first year of the pandemic for not taking COVID-safe precautions seriously.
In January of 2021, he continued to call out Djokovic over the issue of hotel quarantine.
This time around, Kyrgios eased off.
“Look, I definitely believe in taking action, I got vaccinated because of others and for my mum’s health,” the Australian said on Friday.
How we are handling Novak’s situation is bad, really bad.”
“Like these memes, headlines, this is one of our great champions but at the end of the day, he is human. Do better.”
Controversial British breakfast TV host Piers Morgan slammed Djokovic online.
He said that “famous sports stars should play by the same rules as everyone else”.
He has the right not to be jabbed, and Australia has the right to chuck him out for making a dodgy visa application.”
“We’re now going to see American Republicans who hate COVID vaccines attacking the Australian Govt for protecting its border from illegal aliens,” Mr Morgan said in a follow-up tweet.
“Should be amusing.”
Conservative American commentator Laura Ingraham, meanwhile, decided to throw her support behind Djokovic on Twitter.
The Fox News host has frequently spoken out against face masks and vaccination requirements, while promoting unapproved treatments such as Ivermectin and spreading misinformation about New Zealand’s lockdown measures.
The United Nations
Felipe González Morales, the Chilean-born UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, reiterated what many asylum seeker advocates have been saying outside the Park Hotel where Djokovic is being detained.
Mr Morales said all deportations – regardless of whether it’s for an asylum seeker or the world No. 1 tennis player – should be suspended until a judicial decision is issued.
Novak Djokovic, who is neither a migrant nor an asylum-seeker, got what human rights organisations have repeatedly asked of governments for migrants and asylum-seekers.”
Felipe González Morales
One asylum seeker, Mehdi, who has spent nine years in detention and is now held in the same facility as Djokovic, told The Guardian: “I’ve never seen so many cameras, so much attention. I hope Novak Djokovic learns about our situation here, and I hope he speaks about it.”
The plight of the more than 40 asylum seekers detained inside the Park Hotel with Djokovic was also mentioned by Iranian journalist and author Behrouz Boochani, who was himself detained on Christmas Island and Manus Island for six years.
“Some say that Australia’s reputation has been damaged because of the situation with Novak Djokovic,” he wrote on Twitter.
Mr Boochani was released from Manus Island in 2019, but was never allowed into Australia.
He is now living in New Zealand as a refugee, and has been appointed a Senior Adjunct Research Fellow of the University of Canterbury.