Police in Australia pepper-sprayed a mob of supporters of tennis champion Novak Djokovic on Monday evening in Melbourne after the crowd began blocking car traffic and standing on a vehicle they thought carried Djokovic. The uproar took place outside Djokovic's lawyer's office.
As we reported earlier, Djokovic was freed from Australian detention on Monday by a judge who ruled the government had made a mistake canceling his visa. He is planning on staying in Australia to try and compete in the Australian Open in Melbourne next week, where he will be angling to clinch his 21st Grand Slam title, which would put him ahead of Roger Federer for most wins.
Djokovic tried to enter the country last week to start practicing early for the tournament, but border force agents detained him and forced him into a migrant detention facility, something that was not taken well by his fans.
While the Australian government tried to slander Djokovic as a public health threat (as if his presence would make any difference in a country where COVID cases are surging despite all measures to try and slow the spread), some have speculated that Djokovic's detention was due to the fact that his exemption was given because he had been infected in December 2021. The Australian government doesn't want to appear to give legitimacy to the notion that natural infection breeds immunity (even though natural infection is likely better).
The scene was captured on social media.
Absolute mayhem by Novak Djokovic’s lawyer’s office on Collins Street. A car leaving the office is completely surrounded by people cheering “free Nole” pic.twitter.com/H3mAsEHSdX— Tumaini Carayol (@tumcarayol) January 10, 2022
The Australian government is still reportedly weighing whether to "deport" Djokovic ahead of the tournament (which begins Jan. 17). While it's been said the decision won't arrive today, it may arrive in the coming days.
Novak Djokovic will be a free man tonight— Paul Sakkal (@paulsakkal) January 10, 2022
Govt wont make decision to deport him tonight per @Gallo_Ways
Immigration Minister had 4h to cancel before he was freed from detention
Decision to cancel can still be made but will be tomorrow or in days afterhttps://t.co/cSKqKELJ4O
Given the intensity of the crowd response at Djokovic's lawyer's office, one twitter user joked that the Australian government would be foolish to try re-arresting him for a deportation.
Outside Novak Djokovic lawyers office earlier this evening.— Avi Yemini (@OzraeliAvi) January 10, 2022
I don’t recommend rearresting him.
I have a Serbian uncle, and from experience, they’re a lovely, loving lot until they’re not.
But if the recent past is any guide, well, they have made stupider decisions.