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Serbia president praises Djokovic’s ‘great fight’ in Australia

serbian tennis player novak djokovic shakes hands with serbia's president aleksandar vucic
Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic shakes hands with Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade

Serbia’s president on Thursday praised tennis star Novak Djokovic’s “great fight” over his bid to play at the Australia Open despite not being vaccinated against COVID-19.

An Australian Federal Court last month decided to cancel the world number one’s visa after days of wrangling over the country’s COVID-19 entry rules, forcing him to miss the Grand Slam tournament and return to Serbia.

“Thank you for the great fight you fought in Australia,” Aleksandar Vucic told Djokovic during a meeting in Belgrade.

Vucic, a populist who is bidding for re-election in April, said he spoke with Djokovic as soon as he heard about the problems in Australia and told him to come home.

“And then I saw how … he was ready to fight not only for himself, but for his country,” Vucic said.

Djokovic, who previously refused to speak about the events in Australia, told Vucic he was grateful for the support, adding he that he will address the public within seven to 10 days.

“You have stood behind me and placed yourself in a compromised political position in international relations, and I am … extremely grateful. I will remember that,” Djokovic said.

Djokovic’s treatment has been described as “scandalous” by the government in Belgrade and has soured relations between Serbia and Australia.

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