Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley has denied they will pay Novak Djokovic’s legal fees after the world No. 1’s failed battle to compete in the Australian Open.
Daily Mail Australia reported earlier this week that the tournament organisers would cover Djokovic’s costs, believed to be in the region of A$500,000 (£265,000).
"I have seen those reports today and we don't really go into detail on financial arrangements that we have with the players," Tiley, who insisted he would not step down, told Channel 9.
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"But those reports are simply untrue."
The latest twist in the saga comes after the Federal Court of Australia published its reasons for not reversing the decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa.
The documents reveal Australian immigration minister Alex Hawke sought to deport the Serb to avoid stoking anti-vaccine sentiment in the country.
"I consider that Mr Djokovic’s presence in Australia may pose a health risk to the Australian community, in that his presence in Australia may foster anti-vaccination sentiment leading to (a) other unvaccinated persons refusing to become vaccinated, (b) other unvaccinated persons being reinforced in their existing view not to become vaccinated, and/or (c) a reduction in the uptake of booster vaccines,” said Hawke in the court document released on Thursday.
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Hawke also cited Djokovic’s failure to isolate after testing positive for Covid-19 in his reasoning. Djokovic blamed an “error of judgement” for attending an interview with L’Equipe in the knowledge he had a Covid infection.
“I have also given consideration to the fact that there is evidence to suggest that Mr Djokovic has, in the past, shown an apparent disregard for the need to isolate following the receipt of a positive Covid-19 test result,” Hawke’s argument continued.
“On 18 December 2021, Mr Djokovic knowingly attended an interview and photoshoot with L’Equipe. He states that he ensured that he socially distanced and wore a mask, but did not wear a mask while his photograph was being taken.
“Mr Djokovic has publicly acknowledged that it was an ‘error of judgment’ to attend this interview, and that he should have rescheduled this commitment, given that he received a positive test result beforehand on 17 December 2021.
“Given Mr Djokovic’s high profile status and position as a role model in the sporting and broader community, his ongoing presence in Australia may foster similar disregard for the precautionary requirements following receipt of a positive Covid-19 test in Australia.
“In particular, his behaviour may encourage or influence others to emulate his prior conduct and fail to comply with appropriate public health measures following a positive Covid-19 test result, which itself could lead to the transmission of the disease and serious risk to their health and others.
“I consider this to be an additional factor contributing to the possible risk to the health of the Australian community.
“Accordingly, I am satisfied that the presence of Mr Djokovic in Australia may be a risk to the health of the Australian community.”
The Djokovic saga finally reached its conclusion on Sunday after his last-ditch visa appeal was rejected on the eve of the tournament.
A protracted case had seen his initial visa cancelled despite a medical exemption, re-approved by a judge, then revoked again by Australian immigration minister Alex Hawke. His legal team managed to get a second appeal into court but Djokovic lost.
Djokovic was chasing a men’s record 21st Grand Slam title, with the Serb currently tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the all-time standings.
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