Australia Bans Orthodox Priest from Visiting Novak Djokovic on Christmas amid Protests

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Australian police banned Very Rev. Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Milorad Loncar, a member of the Serbian Orthodox clergy in Melbourne, on Friday from visiting detained tennis star Novak Djokovic, outraging Serbs around the world.

Australian Border Force detained Djokovic – the top-ranked tennis player in the world and tied for most Grand Slam titles in men’s tennis history – this week upon his arrival to Melbourne on the grounds that he had not received doses of a approved coronavirus vaccine product.

Djokovic posted on social media prior to his detention that he had received an unspecified “exemption” from the vaccine mandate in the country, but authorities denied that this was the case.

Reports suggested that Tennis Australia, the organization responsible for hosting the Australian Open, had informed Djokovic that he had received an exemption, but border officials rejected his Tennis Australia paperwork when he arrived.

Djokovic’s attorneys appealed a deportation order, resulting in police moving the champion into a notoriously dirty, inhumane facility for refugees until his case receives a hearing Monday. Supporters of Djokovic, many of them fellow Serbs, have organized outside of the refugee center to call for his release, and hundreds gathered in Belgrade on Thursday and Friday to protest Australia’s draconian coronavirus policies.

In Melbourne, the Djokovic protesters clashed with the longtime, established protest presence calling for freedom for all the refugees trapped at the Park Hotel – some actively calling for Djokovic’s removal and others urging the pro-Djokovic protesters to support his fellow inmates at the “hotel”:

Friday is Orthodox Christmas, the holiest day in the Christian faith. Rev. Loncar joined the protesters Friday and requested permission to visit and bless Djokovic for the occasion. Authorities denied the request:

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