The mother of Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic claimed Monday that the tennis player was harassed, and “subjected to torture” during his involuntary confinement in Australia.
Djokovic, the world number one men’s tennis player, won his appeal in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia on Monday against the government’s decision to cancel his visa ahead of the Australian Open tournament. Djokovic reportedly had COVID in December.
He arrived in Australia last Wednesday with medical papers exempting him from the country’s onerous COVID-19 policies, but Australian authorities rejected the paperwork and placed him in a refugee detention facility last Thursday. Police reportedly confiscated all of his belongings except his phone when he was arrested.
“He was subjected to torture, to harassment and we will hear even more about what he had to go through,” Dijana Djokovic said during a press conference given by his family in Belgrade, Serbia following the court’s decision. “And of course, he fought against that system and against the government because he thought he had the right to be there with a with a visa that he got.”
“Never before have we faced a situation like this. This was extremely difficult for us,” she added.
During a press conference last week, the tennis star’s brother Djordje shared a message Novak had sent the family from his confinement in Australia.
“God sees everything! Morality and ethics as the greatest ideals are the guiding stars towards spiritual upliftment. My grace is spiritual, and theirs material wealth,” he reportedly told his brother on Thursday.
Dijana Djokovic said there were times during her son’s confinement when he did not have his mobile phone, and the family had no idea what was happening.
“We had no idea whether he was well, whether he was ill, whether he had eaten, whether everything was all right with him,” she said. “Those are things that me as a mother—I can’t recover from it easily. And I think every mother in the world will understand me.”
Djokovic’s father Srdjan said his son had his “human rights taken away” when he was not allowed to contact his friends, his team or his lawyers.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country’s draconian COVID policies were necessary to keep Australia safe.
“Rules are rules, and there are no special cases,” Morrison said during a news conference, last week.
According to the transcript of his interview with Australian Border Force, when asked why he was travelling to Australia, Djokovic said: “I’m a professional tennis player and the main reason for me coming to Australia is participating in the Australian Open in Melbourne Victoria.”
He was honest about his vaccination status, telling border officials, “I am not vaccinated.”
When asked if he had ever had COVID-19, Djokovic replied: “I had COVID twice, I had COVID in June 2020 and I had COVID recently in – I was tested positive – PCR – 16th December 2021.”
In his decision to reinstate Djokovic’s visa, Judge Anthony Kelly ordered the Australian government to pay legal costs and release the tennis star from detention within half an hour.
Regarding Djokovic’s exemption paperwork, Judge Kelly said: “Here, a professor and an eminently qualified physician have produced and provided to the applicant a medical exemption.”
Further to that, that medical exemption and the basis on which it was given was separately given by a further independent expert specialist panel established by the Victorian state government and that document was in the hands of the delegate.”
“What more could this man have done?” Kelly asked.
“Justice has prevailed today. This is the biggest win of his career. It is bigger than any of the grand slams he has won,” Dijana Djokovic said during the family’s presser.
Novak Djokovic said in a tweet that he is still planning to compete in the upcoming tournament.
“I’m pleased and grateful that the Judge overturned my visa cancellation,” Djokovic tweeted. “Despite all that has happened, I want to stay and try to compete.”
“I remain focused on that. I flew here to play at one of the most important events we have in front of the amazing fans,” he added. “For now I cannot say more but THANK YOU all for standing with me through all this and encouraging me to stay strong.”
For now I cannot say more but THANK YOU all for standing with me through all this and encouraging me to stay strong 🙏🙏🙏🙏
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) January 10, 2022
His brother Djordje said Novak was back on the tennis court and training “a few moments ago.”