Asylum seekers being held in the same detention hotel as Novak Djokovic have claimed they were ‘served maggots’.
These allegations have been made from within the Park Hotel in Melbourne, which since Thursday, the eyes of the world have been fixed upon.
The nine-time Australian Open winner’s dad Srdjan said ‘he’s not in detention, he’s in prison’, but the living conditions he’s endured for a few days have become the norm for asylum seekers at the hotel – some of whom have been living within the country’s detention system for years.
One such asylum seeker being held at the Park Hotel is Mohammad Joy Miah, who said he inadvertently ate maggots that were served to him last month and is feeling ‘mentally broken’.
Speaking to the BBC, he said: “I ate two or three that were in my broccoli.
“Whatever they give us, we must eat it to stay alive. The food is totally bad.”
Sadly, this is not an isolated account.
Mustafa Salah, an Iraqi asylum seeker being held at the facility, 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. We keep telling them we can’t eat this type of food but they’ve not been listening.
“I’ve lost weight because I’ve just been eating nuts.”
Mustafa – who has been in Australia’s detention system for eight years – said he is on the brink of giving up.
The 23-year-old added: “I’m feeling very bad. I feel like I can’t handle it anymore.
“My dad is very worried about me and I’m very worried about him.”
Hossein Latifi, another Iranian asylum at the facility, said he has become ill after eating meals at the hotel.
He said: “Two times I did vomit. I also vomited from a tuna meal a few days ago.
“This is not healthy, this is not good food.”
The Australian Border Force told SBS News in a statement: “There are a range of services provided to detainees… including access to dedicated indoor and outdoor exercise and activity areas.
“Detainees also have access to appropriate food (accommodating dietary and cultural requirements), educational programs, cultural, recreational and sporting activities, internet and computer facilities, televisions, and clean, comfortable sleeping quarters.”
According to The Australian newspaper, Djokovic asked if his personal chef could cook for him while he is being held in the quarantine hotel, fearful that his dietary needs aren’t being met.
He also asked if he could move to a rented house with access to a tennis court.
Both requests were denied.
Djokovic’s lawyers have said that he was granted a vaccine exemption to enter Australia because he contracted Covid-19 last month.
In court documents published yesterday (Saturday 8 January), it is stated that the Serbian recorded a positive test on 16 December, and has ‘not had a fever or respiratory symptoms of Covid-19 in the last 72 hours’.
Djokovic will find out whether he can participate in the Australian Open in a hearing tomorrow (Monday 10 January).