Novak Djokovic Wimbledon 2021

Australian Open chief thinks conflicting and changing information to blame for Novak Djokovic controversy

Australian Open director Craig Tiley denies knowingly passing on incorrect medical information to Novak Djokovic and attributes the misunderstandings to a “challenging environment.”

A leaked letter sent from Tennis Australia to players seeking medical exemptions suggested that medical exemptions may be granted if players could prove they had contracted Covid-19 within the past six months.

One of these players seeking an exemption was 20-time Grand Slam titlist Djokovic. The Serbian great revealed last week that he had been granted a medical exemption and would compete at the Australian Open, putting an end to months of doubt and confusion.

However, the saga deepened when Djokovic was detained upon arrival at the border after Border Force claimed he had provided insufficient evidence to support his exemption and his visa was then cancelled, leaving him facing deportation.

Djokovic had been permitted to stay in Australia with an injunction as he fought the decision in court, in which it was decided that he was allowed to stay and compete for a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title.

In a leaked video, Tennis Australia chief executive Tiley was shown praising the work of his staff despite the ongoing controversy but also said “there’s a lot of blaming and finger-pointing going on.”

Although, ‘Happy Slam’ tournament director Tiley has now told Australian Television channel Channel Nine “we are not going to lay the blame at anyone.

“All I can say is that, primarily because there is (so) much contradictory information the whole time, every single week we were talking to Home Affairs, 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.

“The conflicting information, and the contradictory information we received, was because of the changing environment. We are in a challenging environment.”

Tiley also denies that neither the Australian government nor Tennis Australia had wittingly passed on incorrect medical information to players.

He said “all information we had at the time, the knowledge we had at the time, was supplied to players.

“There was always going to be a handful of people … that require for medical reasons exemptions. We worked closely with the Victorian Government to ensure it was actually two medical panels, two processes that … a small handful had to go through to be exempt.”

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.