World No. 1 Novak Djokovic was widely criticised for hosting the tennis exhibition where he was one of four players to test positive for the coronavirus, a lapse that sent shudders through a sport struggling to get back on its feet.
The Serbian star said on Tuesday that he was “deeply sorry” in an unstinting apology for the now-cancelled Adria Tour. In the latest repercussion, Serbian NBA player Nikola Jokic has reportedly tested positive. He was pictured with Djokovic at an exhibition basketball event in Belgrade recently.
Among the scathing criticism of Djokovic, there were questions about whether he, or tennis, should be allowed back. Many also voiced concerns over attempts to restart professional tournaments in August, including the US Open from August 31.
The last few months have been a public relations disaster for Djokovic. He broke lockdown rules to train while in Spain, raised eyebrows over possible compulsory vaccination for players in future and described limits on players’ entourages at the US Open as “extreme”. Some have now questioned his presidency of the ATP Player Council.
ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said the Adria Tour fiasco was a lesson for other tournaments. “When you tell your kids when they try to learn to ride the bike to wear the helmet, it’s ‘no, no, no’,” Gaudenzi said. “And they ride the bike, they fall, and then they wear the helmet.”
Father blames Dimitrov
Meanwhile, Djokovic’s father Srdjan Djokovic defended his son and instead blamed Grigor Dimitrov, the first player to test positive, for spreading the coronavirus.
“Why did it happen? Because that man probably came sick, who knows from where,” he told RTL Croatia TV.
“He inflicted damage to both Croatia and to us as a family in Serbia.”