Tennis-Djokovic's absence from Australian Open loss for game - ATP


  • Tennis
  • Sunday, 16 Jan 2022

FILE PHOTO: Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic practices at Melbourne Park before his visa was again cancelled by the Australian government in Melbourne, Australia, January 13, 2022. REUTERS/Loren Elliott/File Photo

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - 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 deport world number one tennis player Djokovic after the Federal Court upheld a government decision to cancel his visa on the grounds that his decision not to be vaccinated against COVID-19 posed a risk to the country.

The decision ruled out the 34-year-old Serb from this year's Australian Open, a tournament he has won a record nine 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 dominated headlines around the world and fuelled a debate over the rights of people who opt to remain unvaccinated as governments take measures to protect their people from the two-year COVID-19 pandemic.

The men's tennis governing body had previously said that 97% of the men's top 100 players were inoculated against COVID-19. The ATP reiterated that it continues 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."

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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