A group of Novak Djokovic fans have made themselves heard outside the hotel in which the Serbian star is being detained
Fans of tennis star Novak Djokovic have held a protest outside the Melbourne hotel in which the world’s number one player is being detained ahead of a Monday hearing as his visa row with authorities rumbles on.
Djokovic, whose hopes of a fourth consecutive Australian Open title will depend on the conclusion of a hearing on Monday, has been forced into isolation in a hotel five miles outside of the Melbourne Park arena which will stage the year’s Grand Slam opener following his visa row with Australian authorities.
The Park Hotel, which has been designated as an ‘Alternative Place of Detention’ by the Australian government, is currently holding Djokovic as well as various asylum seekers and refugees – and has been the source of protests for months from irate locals who claim that the conditions within the building are not appropriate for 24-hour detention.
Reports have shared allegations of ‘maggot-infested food’ as well as localized outbreaks of Covid-19 – and even several fires within the building in recent months.
The detention center also has graffiti outside which reads “Free torture, come in” and protestors nearby holding up signs which demand the closure of the such centers.
Djokovic, who has reportedly requested to be moved to a nearby apartment for his period of isolation prior to Monday’s scheduled hearing, has been supported by his fans – some of whom could be seen wearing Serbian colors and holding up signs which translate to ‘Thank you Novak’.
Djokovic faces an anxious wait to see if he will be afforded special dispensation to seek what would be a record 21st Grand Slam title after his visa was canceled upon landing in Melbourne on Wednesday.
This came after he understood that he had been granted a special medical exemption to bypass Australian rules which dictate that only fully-vaccinated individuals are permitted to enter the country.
However, Djokovic’s visa application was subsequently refused and has prompted an international dispute between Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic who has accused his Aussie counterpart of the “maltreatment” of his country’s top sporting star.
Serbian president accuses Australia of Djokovic ‘witch hunt’