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Australia: Serbs are angry at the Australian government — but the reasons are more complicated than you might think

Border Force investigating other Australian Open players after Djokovic ban

  Border Force investigating other Australian Open players after Djokovic ban Federal authorities have also not ruled out banning Djokovic from the country for three years after cancelling his visa.Federal authorities have also not ruled out banning Djokovic from entering the country for three years, as the Serbian star's father declared his son was being held in "Australian captivity" and had become the "the symbol and the leader of the free world".

A mural dedicated to Novak Djokovic in Belgrade with the words © Provided by ABC NEWS A mural dedicated to Novak Djokovic in Belgrade with the words "With faith in God". (ABC News: Andrew Greaves)

Many Serbians are enraged by the Australian government’s decision to try and deport Novak Djokovic – but their reasons are complex and go far beyond blind nationalism for a homegrown hero.

In the southern suburbs of the capital Belgrade, the tennis star is memorialised with not one, but two murals in a complex of ageing concrete, brutalist, apartment buildings.

It was here the tennis star spent time as a child at his grandfather’s apartment, and where locals say he sheltered from bombs that dropped on the city during the Kosovo War in the late 1990s.

Novac Djokovic prepares to defend Australian Open legacy in Melbourne courtroom

  Novac Djokovic prepares to defend Australian Open legacy in Melbourne courtroom The eyes of the world will not descend not on Rod Laver Arena's Centre Court today but instead on the Federal Circuit and Family Court as Novak Djokovic fights to play in the Australian Open. The Serb, who has won the Australian Open a record nine times, was a strong favourite to add another title to his resume before having his visa cancelled upon arrival in Melbourne.Djokovic's campaign to solidify himself as the greatest to ever play the game has now been sidetracked by hotel detention, an impending court battle and the possibility he may never get the chance to win his 10th Australian Open.

"In this country, for the last 30 years, we seldom had the opportunity to be joyful," Dr Zoran Radovanovic told the ABC.

He is a retired epidemiologist who understands why the country is keen to celebrate a "national hero”.

"It is a pretty dire situation … there have been so many wars and we have the same politicians who ruled in the ‘90s,” he said.

"Novak and his successes are [rare] opportunities to make people joyful."

Djokovic turned into 'anti-vaccine icon'

Dr Radovanovic has dedicated much of his life to studying infectious diseases and has been critical of his government’s response to COVID-19.

"Our populist government, in order to satisfy all segments of society, promoted both vaccine and anti-vaccination attitudes,” he said.

The professors on strike to denounce the chaos of the health protocols

 The professors on strike to denounce the chaos of the health protocols The mobilization promises to be massive: the teachers of France, exasperated by the waltz of the health protocols related to the epidemic of Covid-19, are called to a strike on Thursday, which should lead to half the schools. All teachers' unions have called for a strike in schools, colleges and high schools. They denounce "an indescribable mess" in schools - and especially schools - because of the fifth epidemic wave and health protocols it involves.

"People got confused that there were such mixed messages and the result is that we have only about 50 per cent of immunised people."

After seeing Djokovic’s visa saga play out, he is now also frustrated with the Australian government.

"He didn't always brag around here that he is an anti-vaxxer, but now he is an anti-vax icon … it was created by the decisions of the Australian government," he said.

He believes the media circus that has developed around the Australian government’s decision to revoke Djokovic's visa, the court challenge, and now the use of ministerial powers, elevated the tennis star's vaccine status.

"The vaccination campaign across the world will suffer because Novak now has been promoted as an anti-vaccination icon," he said.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said his decision to cancel Djokovic's visa last week was on "health and good order grounds”.

Djokovic title defence looks a futile task

  Djokovic title defence looks a futile task Novak Djokovic's Australian Open hopes seemed increasingly futile as he faced detention and expulsion from the country rather than practice for a title defence.The world's No.1 player, who will be detained by immigration officials in Melbourne on Saturday, is making one last stand to get a government decision to cancel his visa overturned for a second time.

Djokovic had already won a challenge to his initial visa cancellation last Monday by Border Force officials, overseen by Judge Anthony Kelly in the Federal Circuit Court.

Djokovic 'deserves equal treatment'

Nikola Kovacevic is a human rights lawyer for the Ideas Centre for Social Research and Social Development in Belgrade and proudly supports vaccinations, but still believes Djokovic is a victim.

"In my opinion, when it comes to this case, he should not have been allowed to come to Australia at all, in order to avoid this situation," he told the ABC.

"But then when he arrived there were plenty of contentious practices applied to him, and I believe that the judgement of [Judge Anthony] Kelly clearly shows this."

"I don't care if this person is Djokovic, but is a refugee from Afghanistan or from Syria, all of them deserve the equal treatment.”

He works closely with organisations and individuals seeking asylum and refuge in Serbia and other parts of Europe and believes what Australia has done to Djokovic is bad practice.

"The treatment of refugees in Europe, in the Western Balkans, we have push-backs, but we have denial of entry, we have violence at the borders," he said,

Novak Djokovic's last-ditch attempt to stay in Australia to begin

  Novak Djokovic's last-ditch attempt to stay in Australia to begin Lawyers for the world No.1 will argue the federal government had no grounds to cancel his visa for a second time.Lawyers for the world No.1 will argue the federal government had no grounds to cancel his visa for a second time in the Federal Court at 9.30am.

"This [Australia’s approach to Djokovic] is a bit different, a bit more sophisticated, but at the same time can be equally harmful as the practices that we're witnessing here in eastern Europe."

He said if an individual as wealthy, influential and powerful as Djokovic can be treated like this, it shows how little power migrants have when trying to enter Australia.

"To a certain extent, he is being bullied by the Australian government," he said.

"Imagine if you're not Novak Djokovic, who has many thousands of dollars to pay for the best lawyers."

'They should allow him to play'

Djokovic’s treatment is playing on the minds of many in Belgrade.

"It's kind of sad what happened because, you know, he's the best in the world and if they can do that to the best tennis player, they can do that to everybody," Vladan Nitic told the ABC in the Serbian capital.

For some, their anger is simple — they really just wanted to see a Serbian player be able to claim the title of most-successful male tennis player of all time.

Djokovic is vying to claim his 21st grand slam, which would put him one ahead of Rodger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

For father-of-one Ljubal Stanojic, that would be something for the whole country to celebrate.

"I think it's ridiculous because he's number one, he's the ninth champion of the Australian Open," he said.

"I think they should do allow him to play — that's his job, and he's the best in the business."

"I just want to see good tennis."

Burkina Faso forces fire tear gas at anti-government protests .
Several hundred people march through downtown Ouagadougou as anger against armed attacks in the country grows.Several hundred people marched through downtown Ouagadougou on Saturday chanting for President Roch Marc Christian Kabore to resign.

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