Novak Djokovic has been stormed with criticism in recent weeks for organizing the Adria Tour, a charity exhibition in which the rules on social distancing have not been respected. Numerous colleagues and insiders believe that 17-time Grand Slam champion should step down as president of the ATP Player Council.
In an interview with Nova TV, as reported by BLICK, the famous epidemiologist Zoran Radovanovic came to the defense of the World No. 1.
Radovanovic on Novak Djokovic
"It turned out to be naive that he trusted the state," said Zoran Radovanovic.
"Before the tournament, Djokovic was assured that the corona situation was under control. He couldn't imagine that our authorities would fool him. He acted on the advice of experts and authorities and they cheated him.
You wanted to score politically through Novak Djokovic and didn't think that you could endanger other players and the public," said the epidemiologist. "Djokovic is our brand. One of the few positive phenomena for which Serbia is always recognized in the world.
He is a smart young man and he would never have ventured on such an adventure if he had not been deceived," added Radovanovic. World No. 1 Djokovic, fellow Serb Viktor Troicki, Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov and Croatian Borna Coric all tested positive for the virus and the event had to be called off.
Tennis stars slammed the event in Croatia with Nick Kyrgios calling it a “boneheaded decision” to play the exhibition. It received widespread rebuke as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and the world attempts to halt its spread.
“I can only see criticism lately and much of it is malicious,” Djokovic told Serbia’s Sportski Zurnal on Wednesday, via CBS Sports. "It's obviously more than just criticism, it's like an agenda and a witch hunt are on.
Someone has to take the fall, a big name." Djokovic told the paper his “intention was pure” to organize a humanitarian event in the Balkan region. “We complied with all the laws and regulations. But we’ve learned our lessons and some things could have probably been done in a different way”.
The World Health Organization (WHO) advises social distancing and gives guidance on wearing a mask in public areas. The first leg in Belgrade held on June 13 and 14 with no social distancing rules in place drew a sell-out 4,000 crowd and as many fans turned up in Zadar’s Visnjik tennis complex with a capacity of 9,000 a week later.
Fans in Zadar were ordered by the Croatian government to stay two metres apart but the final, due to feature Djokovic and Russian Andrey Rublev, was called off after Dimitrov tested positive for the virus.