Novak Djokovic shares delight at release of Melbourne’s Park Hotel asylum seekers

Novak Djokovic says he holds no “grudges” against Australia and has shared his delight at learning the asylum seekers he was detained alongside at a Melbourne immigration detention hotel have now all been released.
The world No.1, who before the 2022 Australian Open.
Djokovic was in January before being deported on the eve of the Australian Open when the federal appeal court upheld the immigration minister’s decision to cancel his visa.


After his 6-3 6-3 6-2 victory over Aljaz Bedene at the French Open on Friday, Djokovic gave his thoughts for the first time since the election about his prospects of returning to the country next year to have a crack at a record-extending 10th Open title.
Hearing for the first time that the 20 asylum seekers he’d shared the detention centre with Djokovic said: “I’m obviously very happy about it, because I know that it was very difficult for them, particularly for the ones that stayed there for nine years.


“You know, I stayed there for a week, and I can’t imagine how they felt for nine years.
“They haven’t done anything wrong, and they are asylum seekers and stayed for nine years.
“That’s something I obviously did not understand why – but if I brought some light to that situation in a positive way for them, for this to happen, then of course I’m very happy, because they got another chance in different country.”
A woman standing out the front of a building holding a sign that reads "Refugees Welcome".

A protester holds a banner outside the Park Hotel calling for the release of asylum seekers on 8 January, 2022. Source: AAP,AP / Hamish Blair

He referred to — a pseudonym to protect his family members in Iran – whose nine-year detention in Melbourne attracted global attention.

“I don’t know whether some of them stayed in Australia or not, but I know that … Ali, right? Yeah, I know he went to the United States. I saw that, saw his pictures. I was very happy that he’s happy, that he’s getting to live free,” said Djokovic.


“We underestimate freedom. Until you actually live something like that and see what the circumstances are, then you don’t really have an idea of what it feels like when somebody strips away the freedom from you.”

Djokovic hopeful of returning to Australia

But Djokovic revealed that, though he’d heard about the change of government, he still didn’t know whether his visa for Australia would be reinstated.
Judges rejected the tennis star’s appeal after the Australian government had cancelled his visa on “health and good order” grounds, due to his refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“In terms of , yes, I heard the news, but I don’t know anything about whether my visa is going to be reinstated or whether I’m going to be allowed to come back to Australia,” said the 20-time grand slam champion.
“I would like to. I would like to go there and play Australian Open.
“I don’t hold any grudges.
“Look, you know, it was what it was. If I have an opportunity to go back to Australia and play a place where I made the biggest success in my career in grand slams, I would love to come back. Let’s see how it goes.”

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