THESSALONIKI – Serbian tennis star and noted anti-vaxxer Novak Djokovic, on quarantine in Melbourne where he’s fighting for the right to defend his title as the Australian Open champion, is getting support in Greece from other rabid opponents of COVID-19 vaccines.
About 120 anti-vaxxers, according to police estimates, marched pn Jan. 9 in Greece’s second-largest city and northern port of Thessaloniki, which has become a symbol of health restrictions defiance, and who chanted slogans backing him.
The anti-vaxxers, who included a number of health workers suspended because of their refusal to vaccinate, gathered in the northern Greek city’s iconic White Tower, and marched to the Serbian consulate, said Kathimerini.
The protesters chanted Djokovic’s name, as well as slogans such as “We are all Djokovic,” “Greece, Serbia, alliance,” “Greece, Serbia, Orthodoxy” “down with Mitsotakis’ junta” targeting Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and “hands off our children” followed by a few participating children responding “hands off our parents,” the report added.
Mitsotakis has backed off a pledge to consider mandatory shots for all if the pandemic worsened although health care workers and, as of Jan. 16, those over 60 must be vaccinated or face 100-euro ($113) monthly fines.
The anti-vaxxers are spreading the Coronavirus, even faster through the highly-contagious Omicron Variant, and are infecting even the fully vaccinated who mostly have milder symptoms because they’re protected.
Some hard-core anti-vaxxers have refused to send their children to school because they don’t want them to be tested or wear masks either, which could result in the children being held back a year.
There have been cases of children missing the entire 2020-21 school year and a few parents refusing to let their children attend school for a second year in a row, despite facing prosecution for neglecting their children’s education, said Kathimerini in a report on the demonstrations.
Djokovic, the world’s No.1-ranked tennis player and a declared vaccination skeptic had his visa canceled and faces deportation from Australia, where supporters there – many Serbian – want him released to play and be given a pass waiving any health restrictions.
Greece has a strong pro-Serbian sentiment as both countries’ religion is strongly Orthodox and ultra-nationalists in Greece had aligned themselves with Serbia when the-then Yugoslavia was bombed by NATO in 1990.
Led by the United States, NATO warplanes struk to stop widespread evidence of urban cleansing by Serbian forces against ethnic Albanian Muslims in Kosovo. They ended after 10 weeks when the Serbians agreed to a peace accord that called for the withdrawal of Serbian forces from Kosovo and their replacement by NATO peacekeeping troops.