(Photo by Reuters)
MUMBAI: Novak DjokovicThe intentions in organizing the unfortunate Adria Tour were good, but the number one in the world could have applied a little more common sense to how the exhibition event took place, former councilor of the board of ATP players Vijay Amritraj he told Reuters.
The Serbian faced fierce criticism after he, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki contracted COVID-19 following the charity event in Serbia and Croatia.
The Indian Amritraj told Reuters that although the intentions of the world number were “absolutely correct”, and that he had followed the protocols of the local government, he should have done everything possible to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved.
“In hindsight, yes, he obviously could have taken a lot more precautions before organizing the event,” the 66-year-old television technician told Reuters on the phone from Los Angeles.
“Despite some local government mandates, I think it is essential to follow common sense.”
Djokovic apologized and admitted that it was probably “too early” to handle the event, which took place in front of the crowded stands in Belgrade.
Amritraj, who reached 18th in his career and beat Bjorn Borg, Rod Laver and Jimmy Connors in his playing career, thought the tournament would be a positive one for tennis as sport would have reported on television.
“As the days went by, I realized that they would put about 1,000 people in a stadium and I didn’t really know how big the stadium was,” he added.
“And later … after discovering that the event itself was practically a full house from the fan’s point of view and none of these social distances, masks, all of this was even at stake, it became much more worrying.”
Djokovic is also head of the board of players during the ATP Tour and Amritraj, who has held the same position for four terms since 1989, said he came with “enormous” responsibility.
“The same goes for Roger (Federer) and Rafa (Nadal), whatever they say or do will greatly influence sport around the world and what people think,” he added.
Amritraj said Adria tour the debacle showed that there should be no crowds if, as expected, the main circuits will resume in August after a five-month interval.
“Crowds usually make a huge difference,” he said.
“Unfortunately you will lose that element of the game. It will be quite easy to see a spectacular point and there will be no applause on the road.
“So this will definitely affect players. But again, it’s something we have to get used to, and it’s better than not having it at all.”