The dispute over Novak Djokovic’s status in Australia has been “damaging on all fronts,” said the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP).
Men’s tennis governing body applauded court ruling overturning Djokovic’s visa cancellation before open from Australia but called for greater clarity on the rules.
Djokovic had been forced to stay in a Melbourne hotel after being stranded by border officials last week before the competition due to his non-vaccination.
Judge Anthony Kelly has ruled that Australia the decision to revoke the Serbian’s visa was “unreasonable” and ordered that he be released from immigration detention.
The government said it was still considering another way to deport him.
Following the court decision, Djokovic back on the tennis court, with photos showing him at Melbourne Park, the venue for the Australian Open – which starts Jan. 17.
The ATP said the situation highlights the need for a clearer understanding and communication of the rules, before adding that it strongly recommends all players get vaccinated against COVID-19.
A statement said: “The ATP fully respects the sacrifices made by the Australian people since the onset of COVID-19 and the strict immigration policies that have been put in place.
“The complications of recent days with players entering Australia, however, have highlighted the need for clearer understanding, communication and enforcement of the rules.
“Traveling to Melbourne, it is clear that Novak Djokovic believed he had obtained a necessary medical exemption in order to comply with the entry rules.
“The series of events leading up to Monday’s hearing was damaging on all fronts, including Novak’s well-being and his preparation for the Australian Open. “
Australia’s entry policy and what the court said
Australia has a policy prohibiting non-citizens or non-residents from entering the country unless they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
He allows medical exemptions, but the government argued that the unvaccinated Djokovic did not provide adequate justification for an exemption.
Australian Border Force interview transcript shows tennis star shock at visa cancellation
The court ruled that Djokovic had been treated unfairly by border force officers upon his arrival and ordered the cancellation of his visa canceled.
However, he did not say whether his exemption – based on the fact that Djokovic contracted COVID-19 last month – was valid.
Over 95% of top 100 tennis players vaccinated – ATP
ATP added that it “continues to strongly recommend” vaccination for all players, and 97% of tennis’ top 100 stars have already been vaccinated.
“More broadly, the ATP continues to strongly recommend vaccination for all ATP Tour players, which we believe is essential for our sport to weather the pandemic,” the statement continued.
“This is based on scientific evidence to support the health benefits provided and to comply with global travel regulations, which we hope will become more stringent over time.”