Fans of Novak Djokovic have gathered in large numbers outside the 'detention centre' where he is being held to protest the 'criminal' treatment of the locked-up tennis ace.
World number one and nine-time Aussie Open champion Djokovic dramatically had his visa to enter Australia revoked upon his arrival into the country on Wednesday, amid a huge row over vaccine exemption.
He was held in the airport for several hours before being moved to the Park Hotel in Carlton, a government detention hotel in Melbourne's inner city.
The 34-year-old will stay locked up over the weekend after his visa was rejected by border officials, with a judge rescheduling the appeal decision until 10am Monday local time (11pm Sunday GMT).
Large swathes of Djokovic fans have swarmed the hotel where he is being detained to protest against his 'inhumane' treatment, while others have threatened to boycott the Australian Open altogether.
Some gathered outside the hotel and paraded Serbian flags in support of their hero.
Others sported banners and placards with messages scrawled across them.
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One woman combined a "Free Novax" sign with another which said "Victoria, the place to be but only if you are vaccinated."
Several groups took the opportunity to protest the use of detention centres in Australia.
"Stop the torture", one sign read, while another pleaded, "Abolish detention centres."
The Park Hotel itself has housed government detainees since December 2020, with some waiting years while seeking visas to remain in the country.
"It's an international scandal and the world is watching," a Serbian woman outside the hotel protesting Djokovic's situation told the BBC.
Others took to social media in support of the 20-time major winner.
One person said: "Australia as treated Novak Djokovic like a Terrorist. Very inhumane and abuse of human rights."
While someone else added: "First Djokovic gets an exemption to play in#Ausopen, other players get let into the country on the same exemption. Djok gets detained, treated like a criminal and will likely get deported. Embarrassing. #BoycottAustralianOpen."
Serbian President Aleksanda Vucic said on Instagram that he has spoken to the tennis ace and added that Serbia's authorities are taking measures "so the harassment of the best tennis player in the world be stopped in the shortest possible time."
The Australian Open begins on Monday 17 January – one week after fans can expect a decision on Djokovic's appeal.
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