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Tennis Australia has finally broken its silence over the Novak Djokovic visa debacle as the board apologises for the ‘distraction’ it has caused amid the Grand Slam.
Without once mentioning Djokovic by name, TA on Tuesday night issued a statement offering ‘deep regret’ for how the sorry affair had affected all of the other players at Melbourne Park.
The governing body has also pledged to review its handling of the saga – but not until after the Australian Open is won and done.
Djokovic’s desperate attempt to have his visa reinstated in two Federal Court cases led to the Open draw being delayed by more than an hour last Thursday, the day-one schedule being held up by almost 24 hours and left many of the world No.1’s peers fed up.
The blame game is on in earnest, with Open tournament director and Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley, the TA board, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, the federal government and Djokovic all copping heat.
Tennis Australia has broken its silence over the Novak Djokovic saga by apologising for the ‘distraction’ caused to the Australian Open. Pictured: Djokovic and TA CEO Craig Tiley
‘As the Australian tennis family, we recognise that recent events have been a significant distraction for everyone, and we deeply regret the impact this had on all players,’ a statement from the board said.
‘There are always lessons to learn, and we will review all aspects of our preparation and implementation to inform our planning – as we do every year.
‘That process always starts once the Australian Open champions have lifted their trophies.’
A normally omnipresent figure at the Open, Tiley has been mostly conspicuous by his public absence throughout the opening two days.
The long-time tournament director has also yet to publicly address his involvement in one of the biggest scandals to hit the sport.
The fiasco began 13 days ago when Djokovic was detained at Melbourne Airport by Australian Border Force officials for failing to produce the necessary paperwork to enter the country.
The nine-times champion believed a medical exemption from TA was sufficient, before being advised he didn’t have any special allowance against being vaccinated.
He spent four nights in an immigration hotel before winning his first case in the Federal Circuit court on a technicality.
But four days later, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke exercised his discretionary powers to revoke Djokovic’s visa for a second time.
Djokovic left Melbourne on Sunday after three federal court judges unanimously ruled he did not have grounds to dispute Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s visa cancellation
The Serbian superstar then failed in a last-ditch bid to have his visa restored in a Federal Court hearing on Sunday when three judges unanimously ruled against the Serb.
He was removed from the Open draw on Sunday night and flew back to Serbia hours later.
Fellow 20-times grand slam champion Rafael Nadal has been among his professional peers saying Djokovic wouldn’t be in this mess had he been vaccinated like the other estimated 97 per cent of players.
But the saga has captured global attention and drawn condemnation from the Serbian government.
Having his visa cancelled also carries a three-year ban from entering Australia, while Djokovic’s future participation at the other three grand slams is under a cloud unless he gets vaccinated.
Source: Daily Mail