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'Blame me for Adria Tour debacle, leave Novak Djokovic alone' - Prime Minister Ana Brnabic

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic
Rudra Biswas
ANALYST
Modified 29 Jun 2020
News

Novak Djokovic continues to divide opinion in the wake of the Adria Tour controversy. The slew of coronavirus cases at Zadar, with the Serb's coach Goran Ivanisevic becoming the most recent professional to test positive, has captured the attention of the entire tennis world.

Novak Djokovic has been bashed by several people from all over the world for his role in the mess, but he has also garnered support from a few in the Balkan region. The 12th and current Prime Minister of Serbia, Ana Brnabic, has now joined the band of supporters of the World No. 1 amidst the Adria Tour blowup.

The Serbian Prime Minister, in a chat with PinkTV, launched a spirited defense of Novak Djokovic and took the blame on herself.

Leave Novak Djokovic alone, blame the government: Prime Minister

Novak Djokovic at the Adria Tour in Zadar
Novak Djokovic at the Adria Tour in Zadar

Novak Djokovic testing positive for COVID-19 was the last straw in the chain of events that started with videos of a wild party in Belgrade surfacing on Twitter. What started as a great initiative on Novak Djokovic's part - to organize a tournament solely for charity - ended up backfiring spectacularly.

Many have since questioned Novak Djokovic's worthiness to be called a role model, or even an ambassador for tennis. Some have even demanded that he step down as the President of the ATP Player Council.

In response to the public criticism that has come Djokovic's way, the Prime Minister of Serbia said, "It is the easiest and most beautiful thing for me, if they could shift the blame on me personally as the Prime Minister. If people would leave Novak Djokovic alone, I would love it the most in the world."

Ana Brnabic asserted that her government had misread the situation, and that they should have never relaxed the COVID-19 safety protocols for Novak Djokovic's tournament.

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"It's our fault, we eased the safety measures. If we had not, there would've been no tournament. The worst thing is that you will have 1,001 kibitzers who will criticize what Novak Djokovic did from the comforts of their home." the Prime Minister continued.

Easy to criticize Novak Djokovic because he did something noble: Prime Minister

Ana Brnabic, the current Prime Minister of Serbia
Ana Brnabic, the current Prime Minister of Serbia

In a bid to defend Novak Djokovic, the Serbian Prime Minister further pointed out - like many others in Serbia and eastern Europe - how Novak Djokovic's intentions were pure.

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❗️❗️❗️CONCLUSION OF THE STATEMENT IS IN THE COMMENTS❗️❗️❗️ When you are famous, when you compete at the top level, the eyes of a thousand are inevitably chained to you. The first one has to accept the role of the ambassador of a sort, while he becomes a role model for many.

It doesn’t matter if you play at side court or in the central arena - as a tennis player, you always try to show the best you can and share the emotions with your team and other people around you.

Tennis is an incredible sport, with a long history and unique culture. Things that are happening in the world this year are unthinkable and are undoubtfully a massive blow to our favorite sport.

Every tennis player had their plans, aspirations, and goals for this year. Now, and I am sure about that, every one of us has only these questions in the head. These questions are: “When we start playing and giving people joy and inspiration?” and “When we will finally start to do our favorite thing?”. I am afflicted and upset by the situation that has emerged around the organization of the “Adria Tour” tournament in Serbia. The organizers and players of the event found themselves under tremendous pressure. It is somehow even getting out of sight that this competition was held in compliance with country’s norms and regulations. If I had an opportunity to host the same kind of tournament, I would not hesitate a second.

I am the head and organizer of “Diya” Charity Foundation that directly helped people at the course of the pandemic. I also created a clip to educate people about a virus. I know that this threat is severe and invisible, which makes it dangerous. However, I am also perfectly aware that we live in the age of liberty when everyone can make their own decisions and can become whoever he wants. I would not be a tennis player today if this freedom did not occur twenty-nine years ago in my country. It is this freedom and independence that demands that everyone should be responsible for themselves and their actions. It means that everyone has a right of choice and personal responsibility.

In that situation, anyone could get infected.

A post shared by Dayana Yastremska 👑 (@dayana_yastremskay) on

"He tried to do something good, not only for us in Serbia, but also in the whole Balkan region - to put the politics aside, to help young tennis players and to raise money for humanitarian purposes. Whether it was the right time or not with the epidemic, we will not know," the Serbian Prime Minister said.
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"In any case, it is easiest that all the generals after the battle need someone to blame for defeat. Everyone needs to criticize someone because Novak Djokovic has already tried to do something good and noble," she added.

Brnabic has long been a fan of the 17-time Grand Slam winner, so her comments aren't exactly a surprise. She even publicly congratulated the Serb when he brought honor to her nation by winning the 2020 Australian Open.

Published 29 Jun 2020, 14:15 IST
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