Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley has come under scrutiny following Novak Djokovic’s deportation from the Australian Open just a day before play got underway
The 60-year-old is under fire after his governing body secured an exemption from the Victorian Government for the unvaccinated Djokovic to enter Australia, only for him to eventually be sent home after an explosive two weeks, leading to calls for Tiley to leave his post.
He walked on to the Kia Arena to a chorus of boos on Wednesday to mark the final match of Sam Stosur ‘s legendary career.
The South African had been relatively silent in the last fortnight, but gave a tense interview with Australian broadcaster, the Nine Network , stating his desire to remain in his job.
“No. We put a statement out recently. I am very focused today on delivering a great event. I am proud of being able to stand up here and you can see what is behind us [at Melbourne Park],” he said defiantly.
“I am proud of what the team has done and what we have delivered so far. We have had four days of unbelievable tennis and great entertainment and we will have that for the next 10 days.”
Tiley and his organisation have also been accused of paying the Serbian’s legal and travel costs in order for him to enter Australia, which he denied.
“I have seen those reports today and we don’t really go into the detail of any financial arrangements that we have with the players but those reports are simply untrue,” he said.
Despite Djokovic being unvaccinated the organisation controversially granted him a medical exemption to compete in the tournament, on the basis he contracted Covid last month.
That prompted a huge backlash from members of the public down under, and the saga intensified when the Serbian was detained by border force officials after arriving at Melbourne Airport and had his visa cancelled.
His lawyers later won an appeal against him being deported only for immigration minister Alex Hawke to revoke his visa once again, after it emerged the 34-year-old had submitted false information on his immigration forms.
He also flaunted isolation rules while knowing he had Covid in his native Serbia.
A second court appeal subsequently failed and Djokovic was deported and left the country on Sunday night.
AFP via Getty Images)
Tiley defended Tennis Australia’s handling of the matter shortly after Djokovic and commented: “We were talking to all parts of government to ensure that one, we were doing the right thing, and the right process with these exemptions.”
Tennis Australia have stated: “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.
“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.
“We would like to make clear from the outset that we respect the decision of the Immigration Minister and the finding of the Federal Court of Australia over the weekend.”