Dokic not to play for Australia at Olympics
By Linda Pearce
October 24, 2003
Will she? Won't she? Can she? The issue of Jelena Dokic's Australian intentions has been raised again this week, but whatever the context, this much is clear: Dokic will not be in the same team as Ian Thorpe and Jana Pittman at next year's Athens Olympics, and unless some way is found to circumvent the rules, she will not be in any team at all.
The Austrian news agency APA reported the following quotes from Linz overnight, where the resurgent Dokic is playing:
"It is easily possible that I become Australian again," Dokic said, saying that "I want to play at the Olympics, but they are still far away and my main aim is to find my top form again and return to the top 10."
The two issues might not even be related, and we should therefore deal with them separately.
1. Dokic still holds an Australian passport, despite choosing to represent Yugoslavia, now Serbia and Montenegro, since her final falling-out with local officials and the media early in 2001. She can therefore choose to play under the Australian flag again at any time, and Tennis Australia trotted out its customary line yesterday about doors remaining open.
2. Unfortunately for Dokic, although the choice was her own, the International Tennis Federation's eligibility case is closed. Players must make themselves available for Fed Cup in two of the years in the Olympic cycle, including one of 2003 or 2004. Dokic has not played at all. For anyone. And will not have another opportunity to do so this year.
"Under the current rules for selection, she doesn't qualify," said Tennis Australia's head of women's tennis, Janet Young, who submitted the six-member Australian squad to the International Olympic Committee, as required, in August.
The six are: Alicia Molik, Nicole Pratt, Evie Dominikovic, Christina Wheeler, Rennae Stubbs, Sam Stosur. WTA rankings and the Australian selectors will determine the final team of four.
There will be no Dokic. She won't be playing. Mostly, simply, because she can't.