Tennis Australia’s chief executive, Craig Tiley, has dismissed suggestions that Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic may sue the organisation and has claimed the world No 1 will be back at the Australiese Ope in 2023.
Tiley has maintained a low profile since Djokovic was deported a week ago. Egter, op Sondag, he spoke to ABC TV and said Djokovic was not considering taking legal action against Tennis Australia over its role in the saga.
"Geen,” he said when asked if Tennis Australia was being sued. “I mean there is going to be lots of reports on different things but we are in a position where we are focused on delivering an event right now and we will continue to deliver a great event.”
The beleaguered chief executive also replied “Yes” when asked if Djokovic would be back in Australia for the 2023 tournament.
“Obviously, I think he’s got to play out this year, but that will be his intention. At the end of the day, he’s the No 1 player in the world and he loves the Australian Open.”
Use of the immigration minister’s power to cancel a visa – as happened in Djokovic’s case – comes with a three-year ban on re-entering Australia, except in compelling circumstances, such as compassionate or Australian national interest grounds.
Op Donderdag, the Sun in the UK reported that Djokovic was considering suing the Australian government over his detention, arguing it amounted to ill-treatment.
Tennis Australia and a board of medical experts connected with the Victorian state government granted Djokovic an exemption to participate in the tournament despite him not being vaccinated against Covid on the basis he had recently recovered from the virus.
Egter, the federal government disagreed and border force cancelled Djokovic’s visa after he arrived at Melbourne airport on 5 Januarie. The tennis star was forced into immigration detention while he challenged the decision in the courts – initially having a win in the federal circuit court – but he was ultimately deported last Sunday night after failing in his bid to overturn the minister’s decision.
Speaking to the ABC on Sunday, Tiley refused to say why his organisation seemingly ignored letters from federal health authorities that clearly stated 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 an [TGA] approved … vaccine are not considered fully vaccinated”.
Tiley declined to answer directly, but he suggested at the time decisions were being made about Djokovic’s participation, the Covid rules and conditions were frequently changing.
“It’s important to know we have always tried to do the right thing … We were at the beginning of Omicron and that’s why we were constantly seeking clarity and there was a lot of complexity and contradiction of information before, after and there continues to be all the way through," hy het gesê.
Tiley implied the letters from the federal government in November 2021 did not paint a full picture of all the conversations Tennis Australia had with the commonwealth concerning unvaccinated players.
“We tried to do the right thing … leading into the event were forever-changing conditions. You seek clarity, and one or two bits of communication doesn’t define all the amounts of communication that continued to go on leading into the event.”
Despite being jeered by crowds at the Australian Open earlier this week, Tiley has stated that he has no intention of stepping down over the Djokovic deportation scandal.
Tiley was asked if, after all his communications with the federal government, he was “shocked” when Djokovic was detained at the Melbourne airport and taken into immigration detention.
“Ja. I think what we constantly sought was clarity because our goal is always to do the right thing," hy het gesê. “To make sure that Victorians are safe.”