Tennis boss Craig Tiley claims Novak Djokovic will return in 2023 as Dan Andrews sends stern warning


Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley has claimed Novak Djokovic could play in the 2023 Australian Open despite being banned from the country for three years.

But Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews had a blunt retort, insisting the world No.1 would not be welcome unless he was vaccinated.

Tiley said he was confident the Serbian superstar would be back next year to reclaim his title despite the lingering headache of the visa debacle. 

‘At the end of the day he’s the number one player in the world and he loves the Australian Open,’ he said during an appearance on ABC News Breakfast on Sunday. 

‘I think he’s got to play out this year but that will be his intention.’

Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said he was confident the Serbian superstar would be back next year to reclaim his title despite the lingering headache of the visa debacle

Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said he was confident the Serbian superstar would be back next year to reclaim his title despite the lingering headache of the visa debacle

Djokovic was deported after his visa was cancelled a second time by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke over concerns of the player's opinions on Covid vaccinations

Djokovic was deported after his visa was cancelled a second time by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke over concerns of the player’s opinions on Covid vaccinations

Djokovic was deported after his visa was cancelled a second time by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke over concerns of the player’s opinions on Covid vaccinations. 

Mr Hawke decided that allowing the world number one to compete could invite ‘civil unrest’ and branded him a ‘talisman of anti-vaccination sentiment’.

Mr Andrews maintained every person crossing the border into Victoria needed to be vaccinated – including world-famous athletes.

He issued a blunt warning to the player after it appeared he would be able to play in the French Open – despite the ‘no jab no play’ rules.  

A report from Italian publication La Gazetta claimed France’s vaccination passports will include an exemption for those who had been infected in the past six months. 

Djokovic claimed to have tested positive on December 16 – making him eligible to play in the tournament due to begin on May 22. 

Mr Hawke decided that allowing the world number one (pictured with his wife Jelena) to compete could invite 'civil unrest' and branded him a 'talisman of anti-vaccination sentiment'

Mr Hawke decided that allowing the world number one (pictured with his wife Jelena) to compete could invite ‘civil unrest’ and branded him a ‘talisman of anti-vaccination sentiment’

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews warned the player he would only be welcome to play on Australian soil if he got vaccinated

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews warned the player he would only be welcome to play on Australian soil if he got vaccinated

'Rafa (Nadal) had it right. It could all have been avoided if he just got vaccinated, and that fellow might think he's bigger than the tournament. He's not,' Mr Andrews told reporters

‘Rafa (Nadal) had it right. It could all have been avoided if he just got vaccinated, and that fellow might think he’s bigger than the tournament. He’s not,’ Mr Andrews told reporters

However, Mr Andrews warned the player he would only be welcome to play on Australian soil if he got vaccinated. 

‘Rafa (Nadal) had it right. It could all have been avoided if he just got vaccinated, and that fellow might think he’s bigger than the tournament. He’s not,’ he told reporters.

‘That’s why the tournament’s happening without him. And it’s a great success.’

During the interview on Sunday, Tiley said Tennis Australia tried to seek clarity from the federal government on vaccination requirements for quarantine-free travel. 

He claimed the ever-evolving nature of the pandemic and the rapid spread of the Omicron variant had created a ‘incredibly challenging environment’. 

‘We knew we were going to have a difficult period and that’s why there was a lot of contradiction and complexity with information,’ he said.  

To the outrage of the public, Djokovic initially attempted entry into Australia on January 4 with a medical exemption from vaccination.

Mr Tiley claimed the ever-evolving nature of the pandemic and the rapid spread of the Omicron variant had created a 'incredibly challenging environment' for Tennis Australia

Mr Tiley claimed the ever-evolving nature of the pandemic and the rapid spread of the Omicron variant had created a ‘incredibly challenging environment’ for Tennis Australia

Mr Tiley remained tight-lipped about changes to rules around the exemption and instead blamed the new variant for turning the 2022 tournament on its head (pictured, Djokovic)

Mr Tiley remained tight-lipped about changes to rules around the exemption and instead blamed the new variant for turning the 2022 tournament on its head (pictured, Djokovic)

The visa was granted on the grounds that a prior infection of Covid-19 would make the player exempt from quarantine, however this was not actually the case. 

An 11-day long visa battle with the federal government followed, which not only cast a long shadow on the tournament but left a few key questions unanswered.  

A letter dated November 29 sent to Tiley from Health Minister Greg Hunt clearly stated this was not a good enough reason for an exemption, however Djokovic was granted a visa from Tennis Australia’s chief medical officer in late December.

It was cancelled just hours after the player touched down in Melbourne with the world number one held in a detention hotel while immigration reviewed his case. 

Tiley remained tight-lipped about changes to rules around the exemption and instead blamed the new variant for turning the event on its head. 

The tennis boss denied that there had been internal pressure to get Djokovic (pictured) on the Melbourne courts despite him not being vaccinated

The tennis boss denied that there had been internal pressure to get Djokovic (pictured) on the Melbourne courts despite him not being vaccinated

Mr Tiley confirmed the Serbian star (pictured with his wife) wasn't planning to launch legal action against the Australian Government over his deportation

Mr Tiley confirmed the Serbian star (pictured with his wife) wasn’t planning to launch legal action against the Australian Government over his deportation

‘Like we do every single year, we go and review what we did well, what we can do better, what can we do that propels us into an unbelievable 2023,’ he said. 

The tennis boss denied there was internal pressure to get Djokovic on the court despite him not being vaccinated and confirmed the player wasn’t planning to launch legal action against the Australian Government over his deportation. 

However, Tiley dodged questions about whether TA would have done anything differently should he have had his time again.

Tennis Australia also denied it paid for Djokovic’s legal bills during his battle to stay in the country, telling radio station 2GB the claims are ‘all untrue’.  

It was previously reported by The Sun player was looking to sue for a figure of about $6 million to cover his court and travel costs. 

It’s not yet clear what the legal costs will be, but initial reports after his first hearing – which the government was ordered to pay – suggested they could total $500,000.

‘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,’ Tiley said on Sunday. 

Tennis Australia has also denied it paid for Djokovic's legal bills during his battle to stay in the country, telling radio station 2GB the claims are 'all untrue'

Tennis Australia has also denied it paid for Djokovic’s legal bills during his battle to stay in the country, telling radio station 2GB the claims are ‘all untrue’

Almost a week after Djokovic (pictured with his wife Jelena) was kicked out the country, his coach Marian Vajda has spoken of the 'huge suffering' the player endured during the saga

Almost a week after Djokovic (pictured with his wife Jelena) was kicked out the country, his coach Marian Vajda has spoken of the ‘huge suffering’ the player endured during the saga

Meanwhile, Djokovic’s coach broke his silence on the way his star player was treated during his short stint in Australia earlier this month.

Almost a week after Djokovic was kicked out the country, his coach Marian Vajda spoke of the ‘huge suffering’ he claims the player endured during the saga. 

Djokovic’s coach said he had taken time to ‘calm down’ over the debacle but he still believes the Australian Government’s treatment of the player was unfair. 

‘It was an unhealthy and unjust decision, based on the assumption that Djokovic could do or influence something that had not yet happened,’ he told Sport Klub.

‘I haven’t communicated with him since he arrived in Belgrade. It is clear that it hit him mentally, it will hurt him for a long time and it will be difficult to get it out of his head.’



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Written by Bourbiza Mohamed

A technology enthusiast and a passionate writer in the field of information technology, cyber security, and blockchain

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