Novak Djokovic’s parents have defended their son and blamed another tennis player for spreading coronavirus at a series of exhibition matches hosted by the top-ranked player.
- Thousands attended Novak Djokovic’s exhibition tournaments, with no social distancing observed
- The world number one’s parents have blamed Grigor Dimitrov for spreading coronavirus at the tournaments
- Dimitrov was the first player to test positive, followed by Borna Coric, Viktor Troicki and then Djokovic
Djokovic and his wife tested positive for the virus on Tuesday. The 17-time grand slam champion then apologised online for organising the Adria Tour events, which brought together professional players from various countries to play matches in Serbia and Croatia.
Thousands of spectators attended the matches and no social distancing was observed.
Djokovic’s outspoken father blamed the cancellation of the tour on Bulgarian star Grigor Dimitrov, one of the three other players to test positive in the last few days. There is no evidence to suggest Dimitrov spread the virus to others.
“Why did it happen? Because that man probably came sick, who knows from where,” Srdjan Djokovic told RTL Croatia TV.
“He didn’t test here, he tested somewhere else … I think that’s not fair.
“Nobody is feeling well because of this situation.”
Dimitrov, a three-time grand slam semi-finalist, was the first Adria Tour participant to test positive for the virus. He was followed by Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki.
The infections raised questions about the full-fledged return of competitive tennis, including the US Open which is scheduled to begin on August 31 (local time) in New York.
“We were wrong and it was too soon,” wrote Novak Djokovic, who has previously said he was against taking a vaccine for the virus even if it became mandatory to travel.
Dimitrov played in matches in both Belgrade and at the Croatian Adriatic resort of Zadar.
He reportedly arrived in Serbia from the United States and his native Bulgaria. He did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press while recovering from the infection in Monaco.
NBA player Nikola Jokic, a Serb who plays for the Denver Nuggets, has also tested positive for the coronavirus. He was pictured shaking hands with Djokovic at an exhibition basketball event in Belgrade this month.
Jokic is reportedly recovering in his hometown of Sombor.
Djokovic’s mother said both her son and his wife Jelena are feeling fine, but are suffering because of the widespread criticism.
“It is horrible what is being written, but we are used to it,” Dijana Djokovic told the Belgrade Blic daily newspaper.
The coronavirus outbreak led to the suspension of the ATP and WTA professional tennis tours in March. Plans were announced last week for the sport’s sanctioned events to return in August.