Novak Djokovic welcome but Russians should be banned, says former minister

“What’s really important is that we as an organization … did everything we could to comply with the rules and the ever-changing environment, which was very volatile at the time? We certainly did,” he said.

“Speaking about Novak – would we have preferred what happened if what happened didn’t happen? Absolutely.”

Australian Open boss Craig Tiley.

Australian Open boss Craig Tiley.Credit:Eddie Jim

Tiley didn’t respond to Colbeck’s criticism: “No. We have moved on. We have switched to delivery [the] 2023 [tournament]. Everyone moved on, Novak moved on. We have moved on. All have moved on. The government has changed.”

Australian Open organizers conduct a detailed review each year that focuses on all facets of the two-week tournament, and Tiley said on Friday some of the debriefing was forward-looking.

“So the extent of our debriefing is really excited about what we’re going to do because you can’t change what happened in the past,” he said.

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Djokovic said Thursday his detention and deportation is “one of those things that stays with you for the rest of your life. It’s a valuable life experience…but I have to move on.”

Former Liberal MP and Australian tennis star John Alexander said it was great news that Djokovic had returned to Australia to play.

“He won the tournament… nine times. It was very unfortunate, all these bans on people entering the country, from a sporting point of view it was terrible bad luck,” he said.

“He paid a huge price for his strong beliefs, don’t forget he was also denied the opportunity to play at the US Open [this] year too.”

Alexander, who returns to the comment box after retiring from federal politics, said he didn’t want to rehash the politics of the decision to deport Djokovic.

Colbeck said he had no problem with Djokovic being able to enter Australia now given the completely different circumstances.

“I don’t have a problem with that because it’s a different time today than it was 12 months ago. The decision I am now questioning is renting [Daniil] Play Medvedev,” he said. “I don’t appreciate any of them [Russian players] should play.”

Russian and Belarusian players have been controversially banned at Wimbledon this year after tournament organizers feared Russian President Vladimir Putin could use scenes of successful players from those nations as a form of propaganda. Consequently, amid significant tennis unrest, Wimbledon were stripped of ranking points.

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Teams from Russia and Belarus have been banned from the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup team tournaments, as well as the new United Cup, a mixed-gender event that opened the Australian summer of tennis.

Tiley made it clear in October that Russian players were welcome at Melbourne Park but could not openly represent Russia.

“They cannot participate in activities like the Anthem of Russia and have to play as independent players under a neutral name,” he said.

Colbeck said he had studied the history of the bans on cricket teams in South Africa during the apartheid era and felt sports like tennis should send a message to the Russian people about the invasion of Ukraine.

“Sport is one of those things that can convey a message to a country. I have had this view for a long time. We can’t soften our stance on this stuff. The Russians are still doing outrageous things. I congratulate Wimbledon on the stance they have taken,” said Colbeck.

The Albanian government has said it will not prevent Russian and Belarusian tennis players from competing in the Australian Open and other major sporting events, but their flags and anthems will be banned and players will compete under a neutral flag.

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https://www.smh.com.au/sport/tennis/djokovic-welcome-but-russians-should-be-banned-says-former-liberal-sports-minister-20221230-p5c9fu.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_sport Novak Djokovic welcome but Russians should be banned, says former minister

Ryan Sederquist

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