Australia boss Tiley gets board backing after Djokovic debacle

2 minute read

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley removes his mask during the draw for the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, January 13, 2022. Mark Baker/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

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MELBOURNE, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Tennis Australia's (TA) board has backed embattled chief executive Craig Tiley amid calls for him to be sacked following world number one Novak Djokovic's deportation from Australia.

Multiple Australian news outlets called on the board to fire Tiley after world number one Djokovic was cleared to play in the Australian Open without COVID vaccination but then had his visa cancelled twice by authorities.

The saga embarrassed the tennis association and completely overshadowed the buildup to the tournament but Tiley denied TA was at fault in an interview with the Grand Slam's TV rights holder this month.

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"The board and Member Associations commend the Tennis Australia CEO and the entire Tennis Australia team for their hard work and dedication to delivering a spectacular summer of tennis," Tennis Australia chairwoman Jayne Hrdlicka said in a statement on Tuesday.

"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."

Djokovic applied for an exemption from Australia's requirement for visitors to be vaccinated for COVID-19 and was granted one after it was considered by a Tennis Australia panel and a second panel of government health experts.

Though given a visa to fly to Australia and play at the Grand Slam, the Serbian defending champion had it cancelled on arrival and was put in detention by government officials.

Djokovic was freed after winning a court case, but was detained again after Australia's immigration minister cancelled his visa for a second time. He was deported on Sunday after losing a court case to review the minister's decision.

After the player's first detention, Tiley told the Nine Network that he hoped Djokovic could play at the Grand Slam but has declined to comment publicly on the affair since.

The TA board said it would review all aspects of its preparations for the tournament as usual.

"That process always starts once the Australian Open champions have lifted their trophies," it said.

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Reporting by Ian Ransom, Editing by Ed Osmond

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