Refugee in same hotel as Novak Djokovic shows ITV News around room and 'disgusting' food served

Adnan Choopani, a refugee in Melbourne, shows ITV News around the Park Hotel room he says he has been stuck in for five months - one floor above Novak Djokovic

  • By ITV News Sport Producer Dan Salisbury-Jones

A refugee in the same detention hotel as Novak Djokovic has showed ITV News around the room he has been confined to for five months and the "disgusting" food he is served.

The Serb’s stay will be brief, unlike Adnan Choopani, 24, who has been detained on the second floor of the Park Hotel in Carlton for the last five months.

Adnan says he has one thing in common with the best tennis player in the world – they are both being "humiliated" by the Australian government.

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He told ITV News: “I don’t wish detention for nobody, I don’t wish it for any human. No matter what.

“The Australian detention system and detention places are the same as hell.

"I feel Djokovic has been a victim of Australian politicians… he has been victim of a political game.”

"We don't have access to fresh air"

The Serbian government has been pushing for Djokovic to be moved to a place where he would have access to a tennis court.

Nutrition will also be a concern, if he is served the same food as his new neighbours.

“We’ve been receiving mouldy bread, the food is kind of disgusting and we don’t have access to fresh air," said Adnan.

"We’re under guard 24/7 and the windows can’t be opened at any stage.

“Djokovic is being humiliated like how we are being humiliated by Australian politicians and I reckon he’s being used to send a signal about how the Australian government are focused on border protection.”

"Detention places are the same as hell," says Adnan, who believes Djokovic has become a "victim of a political game"

Adnan is well aware of how tough that system can be. When he was 15, he fled Ahwaz, in south-west Iran, on a boat to claim asylum alone in Australia.

He was detained and nine years later he is still not free.

Adnan has spent time at an offshore processing centre in Nauru and detention centres in Brisbane.

Now he is now one of a number of refugees staying on the floor above Djokovic in Melbourne.

“I can’t believe it, he’s just on level one and we’re on level two," he added.

But Adnan’s excitement is tempered by the knowledge that this could be a once in a lifetime chance to get global attention for those stuck on level two, desperate to start a life, never mind play in a tennis tournament.

Adnan believes officials "slow down the process" for asylum seekers and refugees "to torture them mentally"

Refugee Action Collective Victoria says 36 refugees are currently being held at the "Park Hotel-prison for a total of more than eight years including their time detained in Nauru and PNG."

The group said in a statement: “Refugees have received brutal treatment rather than privileged treatment.

"Djokovic might spend a few days in detention but the refugees have been held for eight years with no end in sight, for no good reason, other than the cruel politics of borders.

“There continues to be outrage over Australia’s treatment of refugees and RAC calls on PM Scott Morrison to use his power to free the remaining Medevac refugees," it added.

ITV News has contacted the Park Hotel and Australian Border Force (ABF) for comment.

A statement on the ABF official website states: "Australian Border Force will continue to ensure that those who arrive at our border comply with our laws and entry requirements.

"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.​"