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Craig Tiley says Novak Djokovic will not pursue Tennis Australia and will return for Australian Open 2023 | Tennis

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Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley has dismissed suggestions that Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic could sue the organization and claimed the world No.1 will return to the Australian Open in 2023.

Tiley has kept a low profile since Djokovic was sent off a week ago. However, on Sunday he spoke to ABC TV and said Djokovic has no plans to take legal action against Tennis Australia over his role in the saga.

“No,” he replied when asked if Tennis Australia was being prosecuted. “I mean there’s going to be a lot of reporting on different things, but we’re in a position where we’re focused on delivering an event right now and we will continue to deliver a great event.”

The beleaguered general manager also replied ‘yes’ when asked if Djokovic would return to Australia for the 2023 tournament.

“Obviously I think he has to 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 cancel a visa – as happened in Djokovic’s case – comes with a ban on re-entering Australia for three years, except in compelling circumstances, such as compassionate or Australian national interest grounds.

On Thursday, the UK’s Sun 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 linked to the Victorian state government have granted Djokovic an exemption to play in the tournament despite not having been vaccinated against Covid on the basis that he had recently recovered from the virus.

However, the Federal Government disagreed and Border Force canceled Djokovic’s visa after he arrived at Melbourne Airport on January 5. The tennis star was taken into immigration detention as he challenged the ruling in court – initially winning in federal circuit court – but was eventually deported last Sunday night after failing to annul the Minister’s decision.

Speaking to the ABC on Sunday, Tiley declined to comment on why his organization apparently ignored letters from federal health authorities that made it clear that “individuals who have contracted Covid-19 within the past six months and are seeking entry into Australia from overseas and have not received two doses of a [TGA] approved … vaccines are not considered fully vaccinated”.

Tiley declined to answer directly, but he suggested that as decisions were being made about Djokovic’s participation, Covid rules and conditions changed frequently.

“It’s important to know that we always tried to do the right thing… We were at the beginning of Omicron and that’s why we were constantly looking for clarity and there was a lot of complexity and contradiction to information before, after and it continues to be there all the way,” he said.

Tiley suggested that the letters from the Federal Government in November 2021 did not paint a full picture of all the conversations Tennis Australia had had with the Commonwealth regarding unvaccinated players.

“We tried to do the right thing… leading up to the event, conditions were forever changing. You are looking for clarity, and one or two elements of communication do not define all the quantities of communication that continued to lead to the event.

Despite being mocked by the crowd at the Australian Open earlier this week, Tiley has said he has no plans to walk away from the Djokovic expulsion 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 what we were constantly looking for was clarity because our focus is always on doing the right thing,” he said. “To make sure Victorians are safe .”

Craig Tiley says Novak Djokovic will not pursue Tennis Australia and will return for Australian Open 2023 | Tennis

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