The men’s world tennis number one Novak Djokovic has thanked his supporters amid a visa dispute over COVID-19 vaccines that has seen him being detained at a Melbourne hotel ahead of this month’s Australian Open.
“Thank you to people around the world for your continuous support. I can feel it and it is greatly appreciated,” the Serbian wrote on Instagram on Friday.
Djokovic was granted a medical exemption from Australia’s strict COVID-19 vaccination requirement following a review by two independent panels prior to boarding his flight, but was denied entry upon landing in Melbourne late on Wednesday.
The 34-year-old is currently housed in a government detention hotel in the suburb of Carlton, 5km (3 miles) north of Melbourne Park, after authorities cancelled his visa when he arrived in Australia.
The player’s lawyers launched an appeal seeking to overturn the federal government decision, with a court agreeing not to deport him before a full hearing scheduled for Monday.
Djokovic’s wife Jelena also took to social media to express her gratitude to the player’s fans for their backing.
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 Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA), founded by Djokovic and Canadian player Vasek Pospisil, issued a statement on Friday following contact with the men’s world number one.
It read: “The PTPA has been in close contact with Mr Djokovic, his family and legal counsel, government officials and Australian Open leadership. Mr Djokovic has verified his well-being to us.
“He has also requested that we allow him to personally share the facts of his detainment in his own words, and in his own time.” -Al Jazeera