Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley has rejected suggestions that Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic could sue the organization and has claimed the world No. 1 will be back at the Australian Open in 2023.
Tiley has kept a low profile since Djokovic was evicted a week ago. However, he spoke to ABC TV on Sunday and said Djokovic is not considering taking legal action against Tennis Australia over his role in the saga.
“No,” he said when asked if Tennis Australia was being sued. “I mean, there will be a lot of reports on different things, but we’re in a position where we’re now focusing on delivering an event and we’re going to continue to deliver a great event.”
The beleaguered chief executive also answered “Yes” when asked if Djokovic would be back in Australia for the 2023 tournament.
“Of course I think he should play this year, but that will be his intention. At the end of the day he is the number 1 player in the world and he loves the Australian Open.”
Using the Immigration Minister’s power to revoke a visa – as happened in Djokovic’s case – is accompanied by a three-year ban on re-entry into Australia, except in compelling circumstances, such as compassion or Australian nationality. interests.
On Thursday, The Sun reported in the UK that Djokovic was considering suing the Australian government over his detention, arguing it amounted to assault.
Tennis Australia and a council of medical experts affiliated with the Victorian state government have granted Djokovic a waiver to participate in the tournament, despite not having been vaccinated against Covid as he had recently recovered from the virus.
However, the federal government disagreed and Border Patrol canceled Djokovic’s visa after he arrived at Melbourne airport on January 5. The tennis star was forced into immigration detention as he challenged the decision in courts – initially with a victory in federal court – but was eventually expelled from the country last Sunday night after failing in his attempt to overturn the minister’s decision. .
Speaking to ABC on Sunday, Tiley declined to say why his organization seemingly ignored letters from federal health authorities stating clearly that “people who have contracted Covid-19 in the past six months and want to enter Australia from abroad and have not received two doses . of a [TGA] approved … vaccine are not considered fully vaccinated”.
Tiley declined to answer directly, but he suggested that as decisions were made about Djokovic’s participation, the Covid rules and conditions were changing regularly.
“It is important to know that we have always tried to do the right thing… We were at the beginning of Omicron and so we were constantly looking for clarity and there was a lot of complexity and contradiction of information before, after and there is still everything the way through it,” he said.
Tiley suggested that the letters from the federal government in November 2021 did not paint a full picture of all of Tennis Australia’s conversations with the commonwealth about unvaccinated players.
“We tried to do the right thing… the conditions that drove the event were forever changing circumstances. You’re looking for clarity, and one or two pieces of communication doesn’t define all the amounts of communication that went through to the event.”
Despite being booed 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 Melbourne airport and placed in immigration detention.
“Yes. I think we were constantly looking for clarity because our goal is always to do the right thing,” he said. “To make sure Victorians are safe.”