BELGRADE, Serbia – Novak Djokovic’s parents defended their son on Wednesday and blamed another tennis player for spreading the coronavirus in a series of exhibition matches organized by the top-ranked player.
Djokovic and his wife tested positive for the virus Tuesday. The 17-time Grand Slam champion apologized online for organizing the events of the Adria Tour, 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 father blamed Grigor Dimitrov, one of the other three players who tested positive in recent days, for the cancellation of the tour. There is no evidence to suggest that Dimitrov spreads the virus to others.
“Why did it happen? Because that man probably got sick, who knows where,” Srdjan Djokovic told RTL Croatia TV. “He didn’t do the test here, he did it somewhere else.” … I think that’s not fair.
“It inflicted damage on both Croatia and us as a family in Serbia. No one feels good about this situation.”
Dimitrov, a three-time Grand Slam semi-finalist from Bulgaria, was the first Adria Tour participant to test positive for the virus. He was followed by Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki.
“We were wrong and it was too soon,” wrote Djokovic, who had previously said that he opposed vaccination and that he might not take a vaccine against the virus, even if travel became mandatory.
Dimitrov played in matches both in Belgrade and in the Croatian Adriatic complex in Zadar. He reportedly came to Serbia from the United States and his native Bulgaria. He did not immediately respond to a request 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 photographed shaking hands with Djokovic at a basketball exhibition event in Belgrade this month.
Jokic is reportedly recovering in his hometown of Sombor.
Djokovic’s mother said that both his son and his wife, Jelena, feel good but suffer due to widespread criticism.
“What is being written is horrible, but we are used to it,” Dijana Djokovic told the Belgrade Blic newspaper.
The coronavirus outbreak led to the suspension of the ATP and WTA tours in March. Plans were announced last week for the sanctioned sporting events to return in August.
The US Open is scheduled to start on August 31 with no spectators.