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Novak Djokovic defends exhibition series but apologises for COVID-19 cases in Adria Tour

Djokovic described the event as a "philanthropic idea" and apologised for the individual cases while hoping for normalcy to resume. 

India TV Sports Desk Written by: India TV Sports Desk New Delhi Published on: June 23, 2020 18:42 IST
Novak Djokovic with Grogor Dimitrov
Image Source : GETTY IMAGES

Novak Djokovic with Grogor Dimitrov

Novak Djokovic's disastrous Adria Tour event that has already faced ample criticisms for his poor hosting arrangements just turned worse when the world number one on Tuesday tested positive for coronavirus hence increasing the tally to six from the two-legged event. 

Earlier in the day, former world no. 20 Victor Troicki and his pregnant wife tested positive. The Serbian had played his compatriot at Belgrade during the first part of the two-leg tour. A day before, Borna Coric and two coaches had tested positive for the virus, while, world no. 19 Grigor Dimitrov was the first positive case from the tournament. 

Djokovic was the face of the tournament which started in Belgrade and then moved to Zadar in Croatia. The tour witnessed no social-distancing norms being followed by the players and the support staff on and off the court. In fact, after Dimitrov's test results, a video of the tennis players partying at hight went viral on social media. 

The world no. 1 was supposed to play the final on Sunday but the event was cancelled post the first coronavirus case and Djokovic left Croatia. 

Djokovic faced ample criticisms from across the globe including some from his fellow tennis players. Australian player Nick Kyrgios opined that the decision to go ahead with the event was “boneheaded” in a Twitter post. Meanwhile, British men’s No. 1 Dan Evans told the BBC that staging the event was a “poor example to set.”

The ATP Tour said in a statement it wished for a complete recovery for the players “and members of their staff who tested positive,” adding it has urged strict adherence to social distancing and health and safety guidelines.

Defending his self-organised event, Djokovic said that the tournament was designed to show solidarity and give budding tennis players from the south-eastern European regions to play some competitive tennis. He even described the event as a "philanthropic idea."

"Everything we did in the past month, we did with a pure heart and sincere intentions. Our tournament meant to unite and share a message of solidarity and compassion throughout the region. The Tour has been designed to help both established and up and coming tennis players from South-Eastern Europe to gain access to some competitive tennis while the various tours are on hold due to the COVID-19 situation. It was all born with a philanthropic idea, to direct all raised funds towards people in need and it warmed my heart to see how everybody strongly responded to this. We organized the tournament at the moment when the virus has weakened, believing that the conditions for hosting the Tour had been met," he said in his statement. 

However, he expressed regret over the coronavirus situation and apologised for the individual cases while hoping for normalcy to resume. 

"Unfortunately, the virus is still present, and it is a new reality that we are still learning to cope with and live with. I am hoping things will ease with time so we can all resume lives the way they were.I am extremely sorry for each individual case of infection. I hope that it will not complicate anyone’s health situation and that everyone will be fine,"