Chaos in Melbourne as fans call for Djokovic’s release

Supporters of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic rally in the street, in Melbourne
Supporters of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic rally in the street outside what is believed to be the location of his lawyer's office during an ongoing day of legal proceedings over the cancellation of his visa to play in the Australian Open, in Melbourne, Australia, January 10, 2022. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

January 10, 2022

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – There were chaotic scenes in central Melbourne on Monday night as fans of Novak Djokovic crowded around a car they thought was carrying the Serbian tennis player and chanted “Free Novak! Free Novak!”

Police struggled to hold back the enthusiastic supporters, some carrying Serbian flags, as they pressed against the vehicle and prevented it from progressing down the street away from the downtown offices of Djokovic’s lawyers.

The world tennis number one had been at the offices for an earlier Federal court hearing into the cancellation of his visa to enter Australia at which the judge ordered his release from a government detention hotel.

Some fans banged on the dark tinted windows of the car, making it impossible to tell if Djokovic was inside, and one man jumped up and down on top of the vehicle.

At one stage, police deployed pepper spray.

A crowd of more than 100 later gathered outside the exit of the car park, some chanting, others dancing in circles in the middle of the street.

Australia’s Immigration Minister later said he was considering whether to again cancel Djokovic’s visa.

Djokovic was seeking entry to Australia to play in the Australian Open, which starts at Melbourne Park next Monday, to pursue his bid for a record 21st Grand Slam title.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom, writing by Nick Mulvenney, Editing by Mark Heinrich)