How the Novak Djokovic row brought the world’s attention to a drab refugee hotel

The men’s world tennis No 1 will learn on Monday if he can stay in Australia and compete in the Open

If not for the freshly plastered graffiti over its walls informing passers-by of the dozens of detained refugees inside, the Park hotel looks like it could be any regular building in Melbourne. It exists in a particularly pleasant part of the world, just north of Melbourne’s central business district, right in the shadow of the city’s university and surrounded by a parade of enticing Asian restaurants. The building, meanwhile, is coloured in nondescript shades of cream and grey. In regular times, people rarely look twice.

Since Novak Djokovic arrived in Melbourne and was promptly ordered by the Australian Border Force to leave the country before being whisked away to the detention hotel as his lawyers appealed the cancellation of his visa, the Park hotel has been at the epicentre of one of the most absurd sporting stories in recent memory. As Djokovic’s fans gathered, so too did those campaigning for the freedom of the refugees, some of whom have been there for years.

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