NEWS

Anti-vaxxers protest, support Djokovic

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About 120 anti-vaxxers, according to police estimates, marched Sunday in Thessaloniki, chanting, among other things, slogans in support of Serb tennis player Novak Djokovic.

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.

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.”

Djokovic, the world’s No.1-ranked tennis player and a declared vaccination skeptic had his visa canceled and faces deportation from Australia, where he traveled to take part in the Australian Open.

There is a widespread pro-Serb sentiment in Greece, based on both countries’ shared adherence to Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The sentiment is even more pronounced among Greek ultra-nationalist and -religious people – these go together – of whom there are relatively more in Thessaloniki. Anti-vaxxer protests have consistently been larger in Greece’s second largest city than in the capital, Athens.

Some hard-core anti-vaxxers have refused to send their children to school, because of the tests for the coronavirus and vaccinations required for attendance. 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.