It is Time to Send Novak Djoković Home

Is he one of us or one of them?

Marjan Krebelj
4 min readJan 8, 2022


Carine06 Flickr Creative Commons

Usually, I don’t comment on daily news but this one fired me up. As of this week, tennis superstar Novak Djoković is being held at an Australian government detention hotel.

This is how the BBC summarises it:

World number one tennis player Novak Djokovic has had his visa to enter Australia dramatically revoked upon his arrival in Melbourne, amid a backlash against his vaccine exemption. Djokovic had been granted the exemption to play in the Australian Open, but border officials said he did not meet entry rules.

Basically, he pushed his luck and failed. After that he tried the “Do you know who I am” card and it didn’t quite fly either.

He is now in a government detention hotel, with a court set to decide on Monday whether he should be deported

Djokovic’s parents held a press conference in which they said he was being held prisoner by the authorities.

Of course, this is not the first time he clashed with Covid-19 restrictions. In March 2021 he held a massive super-spreading party, which he later said he was sorry for. He was mocking this crisis and the disease from the start.

Somehow, we let that slide. He’s a superstar worth more than $220 million. It became all too acceptable to expect such people to be in touch with the reality every one of us faces daily.

But this time it is not just about his Covid-19 responsibility. It is symbolic.

The Serbs see it as an insult to their national pride. Even Novak’s father exclaimed Serbia is Novak and Novak is Serbia. It is one hell of a deduction to make.

The poor people have been fed this fairy-tale of Great Serbia for nearly 200 years now. Patriotism and its extreme version (nationalism) is usually a potion that is poured onto people when everything else fails. It is how you keep poor people in line and actually proud of their predicament. “Heroes like Djoković are a metaphysical drink with which the nation is getting drunk to forget its misery,” as Dragan Bursać brilliantly puts it.

The rest of the crowd divides along the familiar vaccine divide.



Marjan Krebelj

Once an architect, now a freelance photographer/filmmaker with passion for words.