Novak Djokovic has been ordered to isolate in a refugee detention hotel until a court rules on his deportation on Monday morning.
The Park Hotel in Melbourne is known as an ‘Alternative Place of Detention’ by the Australian government and will house the world No. 1 alongside asylum seekers after his visa application was denied by border force.
The hotel has been the focus of protests over the treatment of refugees, after reports of maggot-riddled food, Covid outbreaks and fires in recent months.
Novak Djokovic is staying in the Park Hotel in Melbourne which is known as an ‘Alternative Place of Detention’ by the Australian government
The hotel (pictured) has been the focus of protests over the treatment of refugees, after reports of maggot-riddled food, Covid outbreaks and fires in recent months
Photos shared by horrified detainees in the hotel showed maggots and mould in the food provided
Djokovic has been ordered to isolate in a refugee detention hotel until a court rules on his deportation on Monday morning
Currently around 32 refugees and asylum seekers are being held there after being brought for medical treatment from offshore detention facilities.
Detainees cannot leave the hotel and nobody is allowed in or out except staff.
According to the website, amenities include a ‘fitness area’ but no tennis court for the star to practise on.
It has been used as a government detention hotel since December 2020, with staff and guests previously slamming it as an ‘incubator’ for Covid.
The anti-vaxx Djokovic, who has refused to reveal how many, if any, Covid jabs he has received, will have to remain in his room where the windows are sealed shut and air is circulated by air conditioners.
In October, nearly half of those being held in the hotel tested positive for the Delta strain, with one man taken to hospital by ambulance.
Currently around 32 refugees and asylum seekers are being held there, with some waving to Djokovic fans from their windows today (pictured)
In October, nearly half of those being held in the hotel tested positive for the Delta strain, with one man taken to hospital by ambulance
It has been used as a government detention hotel since December 2020, with staff and guests previously slamming it as an ‘incubator’ for Covid
Refugees are made to share a common kitchen area and lift if travelling between floors.
People who test positive are moved to the first floor but this can happen days after the tests are taken, sources told The Guardian.
Salah Mustafa, who was held at the hotel, said: ‘I sit in the room and I am afraid. We are all afraid.
‘Today, I am negative, my son is negative. But tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, what then? Everywhere is infection.
‘We are trapped here. We are stuck in our rooms, waiting [for] this virus to come.’
Victoria’s health minister Martin Foley said he was ‘quite concerned’ about the situation in the hotel, while the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne described the latest outbreak as an ‘avoidable disaster’.
Activists have been calling for the release of the refugees from the ‘park prison’ and the hotel has regularly been the site of demonstrations
Supporters gather outside Park Hotel where Novak Djokovic was taken pending his removal from the country
This van, surrounded by workers wearing PPE in the car park of a Melbourne hotel, is believed to contain tennis star Djokovic
Just last month, guests complained about food given to detainees which contained maggots and mould.
Salah told SBS News: ‘I was just shocked. The food they’ve been delivering is putting people in danger.
‘Even an animal cannot eat this type of food.’
Another asylum seeker said he vomitted after eating the food provided by the hotel.
Two days before Christmas, two fires broke out on separate floors amid fears detainees were kept inside the smoke-filled building.
One of the fires is understood to have started in a bedroom and it is unknown how either blaze started, a Fire Rescue Victoria spokesman said.
Novak Djokovic, pictured at border force in Melbourne after his flight landed on Wednesday, will have to stay in isolation in a refugee detention hotel until Monday after a court adjourned his appeal to stay in the country
Supporters of Djokovic arrived at the Park Hotel decked out in Serbian flags and brandishing homemade anti-vaxx placards
Eye witnesses on the scene reported none of the men detained in the hotel had been evacuated or allowed outside for fresh air.
A man claiming to be a detainee in the building took to social media to complain the group was being kept inside the smoke-filled building.
‘Some people can’t breathe and they holding us in the first floor of the hotel where we got no access to the fresh air,’ Mehdi Alli tweeted.
‘Everything is so chaotic and I can’t breathe at the moment.’
Activists have been calling for the release of the refugees from the ‘park prison’ and the hotel has regularly been the site of demonstrations.
Those have stepped up after Djokovic’s arrival, but instead of the usual protesters, fans draped in Serbian flags and anti-vaxxers have descended on the Melbourne hotel.
A group of Serbian fans turned up outside the refugee detention hotel in support of the locked-up tennis star who must isolate until Monday
Djokovic was ordered to remain there by authorities until Monday when a court rules on whether he is allowed to stay in Australia for the Open or if he will be deported.
The Serb, who was detained at Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport overnight, had been denied entry after initially saying he had been granted a medical exemption to play in the Australian Open.
The 34-year-old announced on Tuesday he had been given the exemption, given on face value, by two independent medical panels organised by Tennis Australia and Victoria state, which he expected would shield him from the country’s strict vaccine rules.
But when the Serb landed in Melbourne on Wednesday, border force didn’t accept the exemption and said his visa was not valid, issuing a statement saying Djokovic failed to meet entry requirements.
He was then given a letter saying his visa had been denied and he would be deported amid the row between Victoria state and the Australian government.