Scottish Daily Mail

Djokovic vax row a disaster for tennis

Shocked Murray breaks silence on visa saga and expresses concern for Novak


Andy Murray is convinced that, whatever the outcome, there will be no winners from the novak djokovic saga. The double Wimbledon champion, who is in Sydney for the final warm-up event ahead of the australian Open, broke his silence yesterday on the tumultuous events surroundin­g one of his great rivals.

despite being an outspoken advocate of people getting vaccinated, Murray, 34, has some sympathy for someone born just a week apart from him, who he has known since their junior days.

‘I think everyone is shocked by it, to be honest,’ five-time australian Open finalist Murray told reporters in australia.

‘I’m going to say two things on it just now. The first thing is that I hope that novak is OK. I know him well, and I’ve always had a good relationsh­ip with him and I hope that he’s OK.

‘The second thing, it’s really not good for tennis at all, and I don’t think it’s good for anyone involved. I think it’s really bad.’

Back in October Murray had already expressed the view that australia was well within its rights to take a strong line on those who did not get jabbed.

‘It would be great if more players got vaccinated,’ he said then. ‘australia, in particular, has been very, very strict. The public there have had to endure a painful 18 months or whatever.’

Perhaps if one good thing emerges from the wreckage, it will be that future events — and not just in tennis — learn from the episode and manage to avoid getting caught up in such a mess.

The Federal Court hearing into djokovic’s case was due to begin last night after government lawyers failed to gain a postponeme­nt until Wednesday.

Tennis australia have requested that a decision be made by tomorrow for ‘scheduling purposes’, even though the draw does not usually take place until early Thursday evening.

On Saturday djokovic’s team laid out their case in a 35-page document and government lawyers returned serve yesterday by publishing their arguments over 13 pages.

Laying the ground rules, they asserted that as a sovereign nation ‘there is no such thing as an assurance of entry by a non-citizen into australia.’

another key aspect was their submission that, even if djokovic was successful in having the refusal to enter initially overturned, they reserved the right to put him straight back into detention. any further stay in his hotel would damage the player even more, as he would be unable to get out and train for the tournament starting next Monday. Tennis australia chief Craig Tiley resurfaced yesterday to give an interview to host broadcaste­r Channel 9. While expressing the hope that djokovic could eventually play in his event, he tried to explain why the whole situation has degenerate­d into such a shambles.

‘We are not going to lay the blame at anyone,’ he said. ‘all I can say is that, primarily because there is 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.

‘We said we’re going to need some help to make sure we’re doing the right thing. The conflictin­g informatio­n, and the contradict­ory informatio­n we received, was because of the changing environmen­t. We are in a challengin­g environmen­t.’

It could all have been avoided if, for this year at least, players were told they had to be vaccinated to play, rather than desperatel­y trying to accommodat­e one, albeit hugely important, participan­t.

Irrespecti­ve of what happens in his court hearing, djokovic will have some explaining to do about his conduct in the days following december 16.

That is the date he says he tested positive for Covid, but he was subsequent­ly pictured in Belgrade making public appearance­s and doing a photoshoot for the acceptance of an award.

There has also yet to be any full explanatio­n as to what happened with the december 10 deadline that players were given by Tennis australia for ensuring that they had all their applicatio­ns and paperwork in. Murray’s sympathy for the conditions he is being housed in is likely to be shared among others in the locker room, although it may not extend much beyond that. rafael nadal has made clear that he sees the player as having brought it upon himself.

yesterday Tomas Carbonell, the captain of the Spanish aTP Cup team who were beaten by Canada in the final, made a pointed reference in his post-match speech: ‘We can only promise two things,’ he said. ‘Fight till the end and we can promise that we all have Covid passports.’

 ?? AFP ?? Poster boy: a show of support for Djokovic outside the detention centre
AFP Poster boy: a show of support for Djokovic outside the detention centre
 ?? ?? Sympathy: Murray has known Djokovic since their time in the juniors
Sympathy: Murray has known Djokovic since their time in the juniors

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom