ATP statement: ‘Clear Novak Djokovic believed he had been granted a necessary medical exemption’

Shahida Jacobs
Novak Djokovic in action

The ATP admits the Novak Djokovic visa debacle has “been damaging on all fronts”, but says the world No 1 only travelled to Australia as he was confident he had an exemption.

An Australian judge on Monday quashed the Australian Border Force’s cancellation of Djokovic’s visa and ordered the government to release the world No 1 and pay the legal costs.

Yet the case is far from over as the Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke could still use his personal power to again cancel the visa and deport the world No 1.

However, the ATP hopes it is the end of the drama as they backed Djokovic with regards to his decision to travel to Melbourne after being handed a medical exemption.

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A statement read: “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. Complications in recent days related to player entry into Australia have however highlighted the need for clearer understanding, communication and application of the rules.

“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. Player medical exemption requests are made independently of ATP, however we have been in constant contact with Tennis Australia to seek clarity throughout this process. We welcome the outcome of Monday’s hearing and look forward to an exciting few weeks of tennis ahead.

“More broadly, 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. This is based on scientific evidence supporting the health benefits provided and to comply with global travel regulations, which we anticipate will become stricter over time. We are encouraged that 97 per cent of the Top 100 players are vaccinated leading into this year’s Australian Open.”