World number one tennis player Novak Djokovic remained defiant about the Adria Tour which he organised and later four players, including himself, contracted coronavirus while playing in the exhibition event.
Novak Djokovic and his brother organised the Adria Tour charity event in Serbia and Croatia amid the coronavirus pandemic but the ill-fated tournament faced backlash from all quarters for flouting all social-distancing norms and precautions.
Djokovic was also heavily criticised after images and videos of the players hugging at the net, playing basketball together and partying during the tournament emerged on social media.
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.
But the 17-times Grand Slam champion still maintains that he had organised the tournament with the right intentions and would do it again if he could.
“We tried to do something with the right intentions. Yes, there were some steps that could have been done differently, of course, but am I going to be then forever blamed for doing a mistake? I mean, OK, if this is the way, fine, I’ll accept it, because that’s the only thing I can do.
"Whether it’s fair or not, you tell me, but I know that the intentions were right and correct, and if I had the chance to do the Adria Tour again, I would do it again,” Djokovic told the New York Times.
Djokovic is currently in New York to participate in the US Open 2020 but is not staying with the other tennis players who will be participating in the postponed tournament. Djokovic has decided to rent a home away from the hustle and bustle of New York City.
He confirmed his participation in the final Grand Slam tournament of the year last week after backtracking on his June statement when he had said that it would be "impossible" to play in the US Open due to "extreme" COVID-19 protocols being put in place at Flushing Meadows.
Djokovic will be playing in the Western & Southern Open at Flushing Meadows between August 22-28, followed by the US Open from August 31. Both tournaments will be played without fans in attendance.
Djokovic's decision came as a huge relief for the US Tennis Association (USTA) after several high-profile players, including former winners Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka, pulled out over issues related to the coronavirus crisis.
Djokovic, who recovered from the disease after going into self-isolation along with his kids and wife Jelena (who had also tested positive) in Serbia, revealed that he got all tests done before arriving in New York.
“I’ve done a CT scan of my chest, and OK, everything is clear. I’ve done several tests since my negative test for the coronavirus as well before coming to New York.
"I’ve done my blood tests, my urine tests, my stool tests, everything that I possibly can. I’m obviously doing that prevention anyway but of course now more than ever because we don’t really know what we’re dealing with.
“I think this is a huge transformational phase for all of us on this planet, and I think maybe even the last wake-up call," Djokovic said.