Tennis Australia boss, Craig Tiley has claimed Novak Djokovic could play in the 2023 Australian Open despite being banned from the country for three years.
But Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is insisting the world No.1 would not be welcome unless he was vaccinated.
Tiley said he was confident the Serbian superstar would be back next year to reclaim his title despite his deportation.
‘At the end of the day he’s the number one player in the world and he loves the Australian Open,’ he said during an appearance on ABC News Breakfast on Sunday.
‘I think he’s got to play out this year but that will be his intention.’
Djokovic was deported out of Australia last Sunday having failed in his appeal against being deported after an explosive saga that saw his visa revoked by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke over concerns of the player’s opinions on Covid vaccinations.
Mr. Hawke decided that allowing the world number one to compete could invite ‘civil unrest’ and branded him a ‘talisman of anti-vaccination sentiment’.
Mr. Andrews maintained every person crossing the border into Victoria needed to be vaccinated – including world-famous athletes.
He issued a blunt warning to the player after it appeared he would be able to play in the French Open – despite the ‘no jab no play’ rules.
A report from Italian publication La Gazetta claimed France’s vaccination passports will include an exemption for those who had been infected in the past six months.
Djokovic claimed to have tested positive on December 16 – making him eligible to play in the tournament due to begin on May 22.
However, Mr. Andrews warned the player he would only be welcome to play on Australian soil if he got vaccinated.
‘Rafa (Nadal) had it right. It could all have been avoided if he just got vaccinated, and that fellow might think he’s bigger than the tournament. He’s not,’ he told reporters.
‘That’s why the tournament’s happening without him. And it’s a great success.’