Novak Djokovic defends packed stands at charity tour occasion

BELGRADE, Serbia — There was no social distancing and few among the many hundreds of followers wore face masks — and Novak Djokovic accredited.

The followers crammed the makeshift stands on Friday at Djokovic’s Belgrade tennis membership on the banks of the Danube River for the opening day of his charity tennis tour, organized by him and his household. Different prime gamers in attendance included Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Grigor Dimitrov and Jelena Jankovic.

The Serbian authorities just lately lifted lockdown restrictions in the course of the coronavirus pandemic, solely recommending individuals keep 1 meter aside. On Wednesday, there was a 20,000-strong crowd for a soccer cup semifinal in Belgrade.

On the tennis occasion, Djokovic defended the freedoms of the group.

“We now have completely different circumstances and measures, so it’s totally troublesome to consider worldwide requirements,” he stated earlier than the ceremonial opening of his Adria Tour.

He stated Serbia has “higher numbers” in comparison with different nations relating to coronavirus infections. Serbia has registered greater than 12,000 COVID-19 circumstances and 252 deaths, though the numbers have been rising once more for the reason that authorities lifted a lot of the lockdowns and restrictions final month.

“You may as well criticize us and say that is perhaps harmful, nevertheless it’s lower than me to make the calls about what is correct or unsuitable for well being,” Djokovic stated. “We’re doing what the Serbian authorities is telling us, and hopefully we quickly will get again on tour collectively.

“After all, lives have been misplaced and that is horrible to see, within the area and worldwide. However life goes on, and we as athletes are wanting ahead to competing.”

However this week, the top-ranked Djokovic stated he was considering of skipping the US Open — whether it is performed — as a result of he described precautions placed on gamers as “excessive” and never “sustainable.”

These included a 14-day quarantine for international gamers; a restrict of 1 particular person per competitor at matches; restricted means to maneuver round New York; and necessary lodging close to the match website in Queens.

Djokovic’s Adria Tour is scheduled to maneuver on to neighboring Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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