Vasek Pospisil calls out ATP for ‘lack of leadership’ in Djokovic case

Canada’s Vasek Pospisil returns the ball to the United States' Tommy Paul during National Bank Open men's tennis action, in Toronto, Monday, Aug. 9, 2021. (Christopher Katsarov/CP)

Canadian tennis star Vasek Pospisil says the ATP is showing “a complete lack of leadership” by being silent while Novak Djokovic and other players navigate strict visa requirements to enter Australia for the upcoming Australian Open.

“Regardless of your view on the situation in Australia with Novak and the other players, notice how the ATP is silent,” Pospisil wrote in a statement on Twitter. “Not even a simple statement after four days.

“They’ve already shown repeatedly that they do not care about the players; now they’re also showing a complete lack of leadership when faced with real issues.”

Djokovic, the Open’s reigning champion, was granted a medical exemption by the tournament organizing committee to play despite not being vaccinated against COVID-19. However, the federal border services in Australia denied the 34-year-old Serb entry to the country and cancelled his visa due to the reported nature of his reason for the exemption.

Djokovic has spent the rest of the week in an immigration detention hotel and will face a judge to challenge the cancellation of his visa Monday morning in Australia (Sunday evening in Canada).

Pospisil has been outspoken in the past about the fact that tennis, unlike many other professional sports leagues, does not have a union to represent players and their rights. In August of 2020, it was announced that Djokovic and Pospisil would be co-presidents of a new group — the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) — which represents both men and women’s singles and doubles players.

“The goal of the PTPA is not to replace the ATP but to provide players with a self-governance structure that is independent from the ATP and is directly responsive to player-members’ needs and concerns,” an email sent to players asking them to join the movement, obtained by The AP, reads.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.