Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley has sidestepped questions about the organisation’s involvement in Novak Djokovic’s visa bungle, which led to the world No.1 being deported.
After failed legal action, the unvaccinated Serbian superstar was forced to leave Melbourne and return overseas before the start of the Australian Open, where he hoped to land a 10th title.
Tiley blamed miscommunication with the federal government and changing circumstances due to the Omicron COVID-19 variant on the Djokovic saga.
A letter in November from Health Minister Greg Hunt to Tiley clearly stated that a prior infection of COVID-19 would not be grounds for exemption from vaccination requirements for quarantine-free travel.
Tiley avoided directly answering questions about any changes to this information but did say there was a “lot of contradiction”.
“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 it continues to be all the way through,” Tiley told the ABC on Sunday.
“One or two bits of communication doesn’t define all the amounts of communication that continued to go on leading into the event.
“I think again it’s important to know we have always tried to do the right thing.”
There have also been reports Djokovic is preparing to sue the government for $6 million but Tiley denied this was the case.
Internal review ordered
“No,” Tiley said. “There is going to be lots of reports on different things, but we are in a position as we focus on delivering an event right now, and we will continue to deliver a great event.”
He said an internal review would be conducted at the end of the tournament.
Tiley was confident Djokovic would return to the Open in 2023, although that would require the waiving of the automatic three-year ban imposed on anyone deported from Australia.
“At the end of the day he’s the No.1 player in the world and he loves the Australian Open,” Tiley said.