THE mother of tennis star Novak Djokovic has said claimed her son is trapped in a filthy hotel “full of fleas and maggots” after his Australian visa was dramatically revoked.
The anti-vax World No 1 has been stuck in a Melbourne hotel alongside refugees and asylum seekers after being held at the city’s airport for nine hours.
Serbian Djokovic, 34, sparked a major backlash after he was granted a vaccine exemption to play in the contest.
Now his mother, Dijana has spoken out about the conditions she claims he is being forced to stay in at the Park hotel in Carlton – an infamous immigration detention hotel.
At a press confrence in Belgrade she said: “I spoke with him a couple of hours ago, he was good, we didn’t speak a lot but we spoke for a few minutes.
“He was trying to sleep, but he couldn’t.
“As a mother, what can I say, you can just imagine how I feel, 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.
“I hope he will stay strong as we are also trying, to give him some energy to keep going. I hope he will win.”
She continued: “His accommodation [is] terrible. It’s just some small, immigration hotel, if it is a hotel at all. With bugs, it’s all dirty, the food is terrible.
“They don’t want to give him a chance to move to a better hotel or a rented house.”
She added that she believe’s her son is a “scapegoat” saying: “It is very difficult for me to go through this.
“No one deserved this kind of treatment, especially not him.
“This is a purely political attack on Novak, so that he does not become the best of all time. He is a scapegoat for me, but also a great winner.
“He is someone who is a revolutionary and who is changing this world.”
MAGGOTS AND MOULD
Last month, a guest of the hotel said that the food given to people being detained there contained maggots and mould.
He 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.”
Meanwhile another asylum seeker said he vomitted after eating the food.
Djokovic has not openly spoken about his vaccination status, but last year did admit that he was “opposed” to vaccination.
The 20-time Grand Slam winner announced that he was travelling to Australia with an “exemption permission” on January 4.
But Australia’s Border Force confirmed Djokovic’s visa had been revoked after he landed to take part in the Australian Open at around 11.15pm local time yesterday.
Djokovic’s injunction request against the visa cancellation was listed for hearing later today in the Federal Circuit and Family Court.
But a judge adjourned proceedings until 10am on Monday, meaning Djokovic faces an uncertain weekend in hotel quarantine.
He did not appear online for the hearing but was represented by barrister Nick Wood SC.
The hearing was adjourned twice on Thursday afternoon because necessary documents had not been received.
But Judge Anthony Kelly delayed the hearing until Monday, to allow lawyers for the government and the player to file their submissions.
Government lawyer Christopher Tran told the court “It would not be fair on anyone that a decision be made today…that is off the table.”
The Judge also asked if Djokovic would have access to tennis facilities at his hotel to allow him to practice before the hearing.
The tennis star was rushed to a room at the airport after landing from Dubai, and was guarded by armed police.
Organisers of the tournament initially confirmed that his medical exemption had been granted by two independent medical panels organised by Tennis Australia and Victoria state.
But after arriving on Wednesday from Dubai, border officials stated that he had “failed to provide appropriate evidence” for his entry.
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison denies claims that Djokovic, who has won nine times at the Aussie Open, was being singled out, and that no one was above the country’s rules.
He added: “When you get people making public statements – of what they say they have, and what they are going to do, and what their claims are – well they draw significant attention to themselves.
“There are no special cases, rules are rules. We will continue to make the right decisions when it comes to securing Australian borders in relation to this pandemic.”
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic then became embroiled in the row, contacting the star directly to offer his support.
He then summoned Australia’s ambassador to the country to discuss the issues the Serb was facing.
President Aleksandar Vucic added that the star was a victim of “harassment” and said that “the whole of Serbia” supported him.
It has been confirmed that two other people are having their medical exemptions reviewed – after using the same documents as Djokovic.
Djokovic’s father, Srdjan Djokovic, said “This is not just a fight for Novak, but a fight for the whole world.
Former Australian Open tournament director Paul McNamee told local media the visa U-turn was unprecedented, saying it “smells” of politics.
Tennis superstar Rafael Nadal hit out at bitter rival Djokovic over the dramatic series of events – urging everyone to “get vaccinated”.
Nadal, world no 6, is also preparing to play for the grand slam on January 17 after testing positive for covid in December.
He said: “The world has been suffering enough. Get vaccinated. If he wanted, he would playing here in Australia without problems.
“I went through COVID. I have been vaccinated twice. If you do this, you don’t have any problem to play here. That’s the only clear thing.
“The rest of the things, I don’t want to have or to give to you an opinion that I don’t have the whole information.
“The only for me clear thing is if you are vaccinated, you can play in the Australian Open and everywhere, and the world in my opinion has been suffering enough to not follow the rules.”
‘ABOVE AND BEYOND’
Health Minister Greg Hunt sent the CEO of Tennis Australia a letter clearly stating that people who had tested positive to Covid-19 within six months did not meet exemption requirements to enter the country.
In the series of letters, seen by SE, references questions asked by CEO Craig Tiley regarding unvaccinated people wanting to travel to the competition.
Mr Hunt wrote: “I can confirm that people who contracted Covid-19 within the past six months and seek to enter Australia from overseas, and have not received two doses of a Therapeutic Goods Administration-approved or recognised vaccine are not considered fully vaccinated.”
The letter also states that it is up to the individual to ensure they meet the requirements for travel to Australia.
A further letter to Mr Tiley from the federal health department also states that past infection to Covid was not a “contraindication to vaccination”.
Previously Mr Tiley had announced that Djokovic was granted an exemption under the guidelines, and it was up to the tennis star to disclose the reasoning behind this.
He said that for tennis players it was a process that was “above and beyond” what anyone travelling to the country domestically would have faces.
Australia has an Immunisation Register, which travellers can be added to if they are ruled to be exempt from a vaccination.
Mr Hunt’s letter advised that the Australian Immunisation Register was applicable for domestic purposes only and did not apply in the context of international borders.
An Australian Border Force statement read: “The ABF can confirm that Mr Djokovic failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia, and his visa has been subsequently cancelled.
“Non-citizens who do not hold a valid visa on entry or who have had their visa cancelled will be detained and removed from Australia.
“The ABF can confirm Mr Djokovic had access to his phone.”
The star has previously come under fire for his anti-vaxx views, and blatantly ignoring medical advice during the global pandemic.
During lockdown the star openly flouted lockdown rules by partying with hundreds of fans in Belgrade after beating Roger Federer’s record for the most weeks as men’s world No1.
The star and his family watched on as fireworks took place in front of a mass crowd at their restaurant.
He was seen wearing a mask for some of the celebrations, but no social distancing measures were in place.
He last year held the controversial exhibition Adria Tour, which took place without social distancing in Belgrade and Zadar, Croatia.
Videos later surfaced of Djokovic and other players partying in a nightclub, with their tops off.
After the farcical tour, where the sportsman, his wife and three others tested positive for the virus, he issued an apology.
Djokovic was criticised by Brit Andy Murray and Nick Kyrgios for the shambolic decision making.
SE has approached the Park Hotel Melbourne for comment.
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