A court decision on Sunday to uphold Novak Djokovic’s Australian visa cancellation was an end to a “deeply regrettable” series of events and the Serb’s exit from the Australian Open was a loss for the sport, men’s tennis governing body ATP has said.
Australia was set to send world number one tennis player Djokovic after the Federal Court upheld a government decision to drop his visa in light of the fact that his decision not to be vaccinated against COVID-19 posed a risk to the country.
The decision ruled the 34-year-old Serb from the current year’s Australian Open, a tournament he has won a record 9 times including the last three editions.
“Today’s decision to uphold Novak Djokovic’s Australian visa cancellation marks the end of a deeply regrettable series of events,” the ATP said in a statement.
“Ultimately, decisions of legal authorities regarding matters of public health must be respected. More time is required to take stock of the facts and to take the learnings from this situation.”
The Djokovic visa saga has created headlines all over the world and fuelled a discussion over the rights of individuals who select to stay unvaccinated as governments take measures to protect their people from the two-year COVID-19 pandemic.
The men’s tennis governing body had earlier said that 97% of the men’s best 100 players were vaccinated against COVID-19. The ATP reiterated that it proceeds to “strongly recommend” players to get vaccinated.
“Irrespective of how this point has been reached, Novak is one of our sport’s greatest champions and his absence from the Australian Open is a loss for the game,” the ATP said.
“We know how turbulent the recent days have been for Novak and how much he wanted to defend his title in Melbourne. We wish him well and look forward to seeing him back on court soon.”