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ATP says confusion, controversy "damaging on all fronts" during Djokovic-Australia saga
It is the first time the men's tour has commented on the episode, which began more than a week ago and has dominated the news.
Published Jan 11, 2022
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The ATP has reacted positively to a Melbourne court's decision to allow Novak Djokovic to stay in Australia, but says the controversy and confusion has been "damaging on all fronts" and called for players to get vaccinated.
In a statement, the tour acknowledged the "the sacrifices the people of Australia have made" and its "stringent" policies since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, but added that better "understanding, communication and application" is needed around player entry requirements.
It is the first time the tour has commented on the episode, which began more than a week ago and has dominated the news.
Djokovic left for Australia saying he had an "exemption permission" from vaccination against coronavirus, creating an uproar in Australia about the basis of the exemption and which level of government was responsible. When he arrived, he was stopped by federal government officials and questioned for more than five hours, then eventually denied entry.
But Djokovic appealed the decision, spending four days in a detention hotel while government officials and Tennis Australia leaked official documents back and forth. It was confirmed that Djokovic had received an exemption from the state government of Victoria based on recent coronavirus infection, allowing him to play the Australian Open and avoid having to quarantine. But Prime Minister Scott Morrison insisted this did not apply federally, saying recent infection was not valid for entry into Australia.
Finally, a court hearing was decided in Djokovic's favor, but only due to the government agreeing that officials had erred in not allowing Djokovic more time to talk to counsel and representatives at Tennis Australia.
Government officials are still deciding whether to issue a re-cancellation, though Djokovic has now been released and has had his first practice session on the Australian Open grounds.
It has become a huge story in Australia, Serbia and even internationally, leading to unwanted scrutiny for all parties. There have also been questions about Djokovic being photographed at events in Belgrade in the days following his positive test.
The Tour also said that 97 percent of the Top 100 are now vaccinated and it does "strongly recommend vaccination for all players on the ATP Tour," noting also that there is increasingly stricter regulation in more countries.
The Tour has recently imposed some additional requirements on players that are not vaccinated, such as having to pay for their own testing.
The Australian Open is run by Tennis Australia, independent of the ATP Tour.