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9 Jan, 2022 10:03

Australian Open boss breaks silence on Djokovic (VIDEO)

The CEO of Tennis Australia has revealed whether he thinks the world number one should play in the Grand Slam and reiterated his belief that stars should take Covid vaccines
Australian Open boss breaks silence on Djokovic (VIDEO)

Australian Open supremo Craig Tiley has spoken publicly about the row over Novak Djokovic's visa, claiming organizers spoke regularly to the country's government amid "plenty of conflicting information."

Tennis Australia CEO Tiley has been one of the key figures under scrutiny in the saga over vaccination requirements, with some suggesting that world number one Djokovic, who has been detained in a hotel by border forces, and other players attempted to enter the country because they had been told that they would be exempt from vaccine requirements if they had tested positive for Covid during the last six months.

Ahead of the start of the tournament on January 17, Djokovic is set to discover whether he can remain in Australia to defend his title when a judge hears his case on Monday.

The Serb superstar has become embroiled in a diplomatic row between his homeland and Australia. His legal team claim that he was diagnosed with Covid on December 16, making him eligible for a medical exemption to play.

"We were constantly seeking clarity from day one to ensure that we did the right thing and were able to bring the players into the country," said Tiley, who has endured criticism over the fiasco.

"Our primary objective was that they were safe. All the information and knowledge we had at the time was supplied to players.

"Remember, from the beginning we were saying [that] the condition you can be assured to come into Australia [under] is to meet the requirements of certain vaccines that were valid in Australia and to get vaccinated with those vaccines.

"We worked closely with the Victorian government – there were actually two panels, two processes that only a small handful of people had to go through in order to be exempt. That is done and managed through the state government."

When he was squarely asked who was to blame for the situation, which has already seen one competitor deported and could result in Djokovic following suit imminently, Tiley insisted that his organization would not be pointing the finger at anyone.

"As the introduction of medical exemptions were proceeded with, there was plenty of contradictory information, plenty of conflicting information," he explained.

"Every single week we were talking to [the] home affairs [department], all parts of government, to ensure that we were doing the right thing with these exemptions, knowing that everyone had to be vaccinated.

"The conflicting and contradictory information we received is because of the changing environment. We are in a very challenging environment for everyone."

Tiley claimed that Tennis Australia's efforts had helped the vaccination rate among players rise from 50 percent at the US Open, which took place in August and September 2021, to 97 percent now.

"I would like to see him play the Australian Open," he said of Djokovic, who is reportedly being kept in poor conditions in the build-up to what could prove his fourth successive title win and record 21st Grand Slam triumph.

"We've always said that what's of absolute priority is the safety of Australians [and] anyone coming in from overseas. That's why we went on a journey of vaccination for everyone coming in."

Hours earlier, a leaked video purportedly showed Tiley praising his staff for an "unbelievable job" while advising them that he would say more once legal action had been completed.

"I want to assure you that we are in a position where we would like to share with you all the information, and we will," Tiley said in the address obtained by the Herald Sun.

"We've chosen at this point not to be very public with it simply because there is a pending lawsuit related to entry into Australia. Once that has run its course, we'll be able to share more with you.

"There's a lot of finger pointing going on and a lot of blaming going on but I can assure you our team has done an unbelievable job and have done everything they possibly could according to all the instructions that they have been provided."