Novak Djokovic thanks supporters as he celebrates religious holiday in Melbourne hotel

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Novak Djokovic thanked his supporters on Friday as he fights with the Australian government to play in the upcoming Australian Open – the first major tournament of the tennis season.

Djokovic posted his message on Instagram as he is holed up in a Melbourne hotel awaiting a decision from the Australian government over whether he will be allowed to play in the Open or will face deportation.

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic poses with Norman Brookes Challenge Cup the day in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021.
(AP Photo/Hamish Blair, File)

Novak Djokovic of Serbia reacts during the Men’s Single’s Second Semi-Final match against Alexander Zverev of Germany on Nov. 20, 2021 in Turin, Italy.
(Julian Finney/Getty Images)

“It’s Christmas today for us, my wishes are for everyone to be healthy, happy, safe and together with families. We wish we are all together today, but my consolation is that at least we are healthy. And we will grow from this experience,” she wrote.

“Thank you dear people, all around the world for using your voice to send love to my husband. I am taking a deep breath to calm down and find gratitude (and understanding) in this moment for all that is happening.

“The only law that we should all respect across every single border is Love and respect for another human being. Love and forgiveness is never a mistake but a powerful force.”

Tennis Australia said it granted a medical exemption for Djokovic in order for him to compete in the Australian Open. He had been approved by the Victoria state government for a medical exemption to the tournament’s vaccination rules based on the details he supplied to an independent panel of medical experts, and as per the country’s tennis organization. But the same evidence didn’t apply with the Australian government’s regulations.

He was detained upon arriving in Melbourne and placed into the hotel with the Australian Border Force canceling his visa. He appealed the case but it was adjourned until Monday – a week before the tournament is set to start.

While his family contends Djokovic is being held prisoner, Australian officials has said he was free to get on a plane and leave any time.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia against Taylor Fritz of the United States on May 11, 2021 in Rome, Italy. 
(Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

“Mr Djokovic is not being held captive in Australia, he is free to leave at any time that he chooses to do so and Border Force will actually facilitate that,” Australian Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said Friday, via iNews.

Australia has strict laws state that incoming travelers must have had two shots of an approved COVID-19 vaccine or have an exemption with a medical reason to avoid quarantine. Neither Djokovic nor Tennis Australia have given a reason for the exemption request.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley has previously defended the process insisting there was no special treatment given to the world’s No. 1 tennis player.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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