‘Djokovic to return for 2023 Australian Open’ but ‘vaccination a must’

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Novak Djokovic - TheSportingHub
Novak Djokovic too intends to play the Australian Open in 2023, tournament chief Craig Tiley has told ABC (Australian Broadcast Corporation). Photo: dw.com

Australian Open authorities want the best men’s singles player Novak Djokovic, who was unceremoniously denied to defend the title over his vaccination status. However, An entry into Australia might still not be possible if the Serb declines to change his stance on a COVID-19 vaccination.

Novak Djokovic too intends to play the Australian Open in 2023, tournament chief Craig Tiley has told ABC (Australian Broadcast Corporation). While Australian authorities had taken a tough stance over Djokovic’s visa status, twice cancelling his visa within a week, the tournament organisers still have a soft corner for the star attraction as Tiley blamed “miscommunication” for his deportation ahead of the event, going on at the Melbourne Park.

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The world No 1 was compelled to fly out of Melbourne following deportation after he lost a legal battle over cancellation of his visa on grounds of his COVID-19 vaccination status.

Tiley has kept a low profile since, but asked Sunday whether the unvaccinated Serbian planned to return for the 2023 tournament despite the possibility that his visa could be revoked for up to three years, he replied: “Yes.”

“Obviously, he’s got to play out this year, but that will be his intention,” he told public broadcaster ABC.

“At the end of the day, he’s the number one player in the world and he really loves the Australian Open.”

But Daniel Andrews, premier of Victoria State that hosts the tournament, insisted Djokovic would only be welcome if he was 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,” Andrews told reporters.
“That’s why the tournament’s happening without him. And it’s a great success.”

Tiley blamed “forever-changing conditions” and “miscommunication” with the federal government for Djokovic’s deportation after he was initially granted an exemption from Tennis Australia’s chief medical officer.

Tiley said Tennis Australia sought clarity on multiple occasions from national authorities, but the evolving nature of the Omicron variant meant that “there was a lot of contradiction and complexity with information.

Also Read: Timeline of Djokovic’s serve and volley with COVID

“Even just in the past week since (the ruling), things have changed in relation to the response to the pandemic.

“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.”

Djokovic is now back in Serbia with his image seriously damaged and his future unclear.
Reports have suggested he could sue Tennis Australia to recover his court and travel costs, Tiley replied in negative to the pointed question whether legal action was anticipated.