'So terrible': Inside Novak Djokovic's Melbourne hotel hell

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Novak Djokovic is staying at a Melbourne hotel used to house asylum seekers. Pic: Getty
Novak Djokovic is staying at a Melbourne hotel used to house asylum seekers. Pic: Getty

Novak Djokovic's mother has lashed out at the accomodation her son has been provided as he awaits the outcome of a legal battle over his visa status.

The 34-year-old was granted a medical exemption from COVID-19 vaccination requirements to compete in the year's first major, but after a public outcry in Australia was detained by officials at the border on Thursday.

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Djokovic is now in a quarantine hotel in Melbourne after his lawyers secured an agreement for him to stay in the country for a court hearing on Monday in which he hopes to overturn the federal government ban on his entry.

While Djokovic's lawyers fight for the World No.1's visa status, he is being housed in a hotel where refugees and asylum seekers are often placed by immigration officials.

The Park Hotel in Carlton doesn't exactly have the greatest reputation and that's being generous.

Describing itself as “luxurious” and “4.5 stars” on its website, the hotel is situated in a “prime location” in Melbourne and has the usual amenities provided to guests, with 107 “fully equipped, air-conditioned bedrooms” on offer.

It is a smoke-free property and there are a variety of “complimentary” internet options that could be used by Djokovic.

However, the nine-time Australian Open champion will presumably not have access to its outdoor swimming pool.

Also likely to be out of bounds are beauty services, including body and facial treatments, and “rejuvenating” massages.

Djokovic’s mother, Dijana, lashed out against the Australian government in a news conference on Thursday, taking aim at the conditions of the hotel her son is staying in.

Melbourne's Park Hotel is where Novak Djokovic is being housed while he awaits a decision on his visa saga. Pic: Park Hotel
Melbourne's Park Hotel is where Novak Djokovic is being housed while he awaits a decision on his visa saga. Pic: Park Hotel

“I feel terrible since yesterday, the last 24 hours. They are keeping him like a prisoner. It’s just not fair. It’s not human,” she said.

“It’s just some small immigration hotel, if we can call it a hotel at all. Some bugs, it’s dirty, and the food is so terrible,” Dijana Djokovic added.

The hotel is a far cry from where Djokovic spent his quarantine period in Adelaide last year when strict Covid-19 restrictions forced players to exercise in their hotel rooms.

It has also been the centre of disturbing recent reports from refugees in the hotel, who have complained about alleged instances of maggots and mould found in their meals.

Mustafa Salah, an Iraqi asylum seeker being detained at the property, told SBS News recently: “I was just shocked. The food they’ve been delivering is putting people in danger. Even an animal cannot eat this type of food.”

Melbourne hotel at centre of recent controversy

Djokovic has a well-renowned gluten intolerance and follows a gluten-free and dairy-free diet, aiming to eliminate as much sugar as possible, further complicating matters for the World No.1.

The hotel has housed government detainees since December 2020, with many of them held for years while seeking visas to remain in Australia. More than two dozen remain there now.

In October, there was a Covid-19 outbreak among refugees and asylum-seekers being held at the hotel, with at least 22 people testing positive.

Then in December, a fire at the hotel saw a number of people suffer minor injuries, with the cause of the blaze yet to be determined.

Djokovic's father accused Australia and the West of "mistreating" his son because he is a Serb and likened it to "being held captive".

"Shame on them, the entire freedom-loving world should rise together with Serbia," Srdjan said.

"They crucified Jesus and now they are trying to crucify Novak the same way and force him on his knees."

"They're keeping him in captivity. They are trampling on Novak and thus they are trampling on Serbia and the Serbian people," Djokovic's father Srdjan told reporters at a news conference in Belgrade on Thursday.

"(Australian Prime Minister, Scott) Morrison and his like have dared attack Novak to bring Serbia to its knees. Novak has always shown that he comes from a proud nation," Srdjan said.

"This has nothing to do with sports, this is a political agenda. Novak is the best player and the best athlete in the world, but several hundred million people from the West can't stomach that," he added.

with agencies

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