Australian tennis boss rejects blame for Djokovic drama

Australia’s tennis chief boasted in an internal video leaked Saturday of his team’s “unbelievable job” despite a visa crisis engulfing the men’s world number one, Novak Djokovic.

Three days after Australian border agents tore up Djokovic’s visa over his Covid-19 vaccination status and placed him in a Melbourne detention centre, Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley addressed the widespread criticism of his organisation’s role.

“There is a lot finger pointing going on… but I can assure you our team has done an unbelievable job,” he said in a video published by the Sunday Herald Sun newspaper.

Although Djokovic won a legal reprieve from deportation until Monday, when his attempt to overturn his visa cancellation will be heard in court, it is unclear whether he will play in the January 17-30 Australian Open.

A second tennis player who was headed to the tournament — Czech doubles specialist Renata Voracova — had her visa cancelled after initially being allowed into the country, her government has confirmed.

She also was placed in the Melbourne centre, and said she was “waiting for a permit (to leave), on Saturday perhaps.”

“They bring me food and there’s a guard in the corridor… I feel a bit like in prison,” 38-year-old Voracova told Czech media.

The Tennis Australia boss said his organisation had chosen not to address the issue in public because of Djokovic’s lawsuit, but his team had done “everything they possibly could”.

Tennis Australia has been accused of misleading players in a memo, which advised them that a recent Covid-19 infection was grounds for a temporary medical exemption from vaccination.

But Australia’s government said that advice was only valid for Australian residents, not for foreign nationals trying to enter the country.

It added that the health minister warned Tennis Australia of this in November.

Foreigners are still mostly banned from travel to Australia, and those granted entry must be fully vaccinated or have a medical exemption.

Djokovic boasted before flying in that he had been given a Covid-19 vaccination exemption, widely believed to be on the grounds that he was recently infected with the virus. (Punch)

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