Novak Djokovic fans ‘pepper sprayed’ by police as star’s car is mobbed

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Watch: Police use pepper spray on Djokovic fans in Melbourne

Jubilant fans of Novak Djokovic celebrating his release from immigration detention hotel have been pepper sprayed in clashes with Australian police, according to reports.

A black Audi thought to be holding the 34-year-old Serbian star alongside his physio was mobbed by fans waving flags and chanting “Free Novak!” as he drove out of legal offices where his virtual court hearing was held.

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 in Melbourne.

The crowd surged around the black Audi with tinted windows while reports suggested police used pepper spray as they tried to clear a path.

Some of the hundred or so fans banged on the dark tinted windows of the car, making it impossible to tell if Djokovic was inside.

It came as a spokesman for Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said he was considering using his personal power to again revoke Djokovic’s visa.

“The minister is currently considering the matter and the process remains ongoing,” the spokesman said.

The controversy has been closely followed around the world, creating diplomatic tensions between Belgrade and Canberra.

It has also sparked a heated debate over national vaccination rules.

Spanish rival Rafa Nadal called the drama surrounding the build-up to the tournament a “circus”.

“Whether or not I agree with Djokovic on some things, justice has spoken and has said that he has the right to participate in the Australian Open and I think it is the fairest decision to do so,” Nadal told Spanish radio Onda Cero.

Australia’s efforts to let the media and public watch tennis superstar Djokovic’s court appeal against his visa cancellation descended into farce as pranksters hijacked the internet links to stream loud music and porn.

Judge Kelly said he had quashed the decision to block Djokovic’s entry to Australia because the player was not given enough time to speak to tennis organisers and lawyers to respond fully after he was notified of the intent to cancel his visa.

Officials at Melbourne’s airport, where Djokovic had been detained on arrival late on Wednesday, reneged on an agreement to give Djokovic until 8.30 am to speak to tournament organiser Tennis Australia and lawyers, the judge said.

Djokovic was instead woken up by officials at around 6am after a brief rest and said he felt pressured to respond. 

The player, a long-term vocal opponent of mandatory vaccination, told border officials he was unvaccinated and had COVID-19 twice, according to a transcript of the interview.

Kelly earlier told the court it appeared Djokovic had sought and received the required medical exemption from vaccination on the basis that he had contracted the virus last month. 

He had presented evidence of this before he travelled to Melbourne and when he landed on Wednesday evening.

“What more could this man have done?” Kelly said.

Kelly’s ruling did not directly address the issue of whether the exemption on the grounds of an infection in the past six months was valid which the government had disputed.

Watch: Novak was 'trapped' in Australia, says Djokovic's uncle

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