Novak Djokovic set the whole tennis world on fire with his official statement yesterday, revealing that he had tested positive for COVID-19. That made him the biggest sports personality yet to have contracted the dreaded virus.
The slew of positive cases in the tennis fraternity, which also includes high-profile players Grigor Dimitrov and Borna Coric, can be traced back to Novak Djokovic's Adria Tour - a charity exhibition where safety precautions were not taken seriously. Over the past two days Novak Djokovic and the tournament personnel have been criticized from all corners for hosting the event in the middle of a global pandemic.
But in a chat with Portuguese tabloid Lusa, World No. 66 Joao Sousa defended Novak Djokovic. Sousa believes the Serb is not necessarily the biggest culprit behind the debacle that arose after the Zadar leg of the Adria Tour
Novak Djokovic wanted to keep the game alive: Sousa
Novak Djokovic had organized the Adria Tennis Tour in hopes of uniting tennis players against the unprecedented crisis that the world is facing. The proceeds of his exhibition were supposed to go to charitable causes, and he also wanted to help players get a bit of match practice before the ATP Tour resumes in about a month.
However, none of that was meant to be as the tournament, organized by Novak Djokovic's brother Djordje, has been called off now.
Speaking on the whole ordeal, Joao Sousa said, "I wouldn’t say that he has the biggest blame. Obviously he was trying to draw some public and trying to keep the tennis game alive."
The string of coronavirus cases among players and staff at the Adria Tour started when World No. 19 Grigor Dimitrov tested positive for coronavirus a few days back. Subsequently, Borna Coric and Novak Djokovic's fitness coach tested positive as well, bringing the whole event to a grinding halt.
Not just Novak Djokovic, the organizers of the event are to be blamed as well: Sousa
Ever since the start of this chain of events, Novak Djokovic has been heavily slammed for organizing the exhibition amid such unfavorable circumstances. However, Sousa was sympathetic with Djokovic and had a few words of support for the Serb.
"The Adria Tour was a circuit, which, perhaps, was not carried out in the best way, given the circumstances and the moment the world is experiencing. But not only Novak Djokovic, but more the organization of that event is to blame as well. Because evidently there was an excess of confidence in what we are experiencing and hence, this has happened," Sousa said.
While calling Novak Djokovic's idea a "world reference" even though its timing was not the best, Sousa also said that the ill fate of the Adria Tour was a cautionary tale for the ATP. The top men's tennis organization intends to get the 2020 tour underway in America - the worst hit country in terms of coronavirus cases.
"ATP already has a set timetable for returning to the competition. So I think that these errors could also serve as a lesson for the next tournament organizers," Sousa said.Published 24 Jun 2020, 14:52 IST