MELBOURNE, Jan 11: The ATP on Monday responded to Novak Djokovic’s stunning victory over the Australian government in his visa battle, by calling the argument over his vaccination status “damaging on all fronts”.
The ruling by a judge in Melbourne overturned the cancellation of Djokovic’s visa on Covid-19 health grounds, and ended the unvaccinated player’s detention in an immigration facility, potentially clearing the way for him to play in the tournament that starts next Monday.
The ATP, the governing body of men’s tennis, said that it sympathised with both Djokovic and the Australian public and stressed it had done everything it could to head off potential problems for players entering the country to play the Australian Open.
“The ATP fully respects the sacrifices the people of Australia have made since the onset of COVID-19 and the stringent immigration policies that have been put in place,“ said the statement.
As for the world number one, the ATP said: “In travelling to Melbourne, it’s clear Novak Djokovic believed he had been granted a necessary medical exemption in order to comply with entry regulations.
“The series of events leading to Monday’s court hearing have been damaging on all fronts, including for Novak’s well-being and preparation for the Australian Open.”
“Medical exemption requests are made independently of ATP,“ the body said. “However we have been in constant contact with Tennis Australia to seek clarity throughout this process.”
But the statement made clear that Djokovic could have avoided the problem.
“ATP continues to strongly recommend vaccination for all players on the ATP Tour, which we believe is essential for our sport to navigate the pandemic…We are encouraged that 97 per cent of the Top 100 players are vaccinated leading into this year’s Australian Open.” – AFP