Djokovic defends packed stands at tennis charity tour event

Novak Djokovic defended the huge crowds at the charity tour event in Belgrade on Friday which was organised by him and his family.

Novak Djokovic (centre) said that he was following the health guidelines of the Serbian government.   -  ap

There was no social distancing at Novak Djokovic’s Belgrade tennis club on Friday as thousands of fans, most of them without face masks, thronged the makeshift stands for his charity tennis tour.

The Serbian government recently lifted the coronavirus lockdown restrictions, only recommending people stay 1 meter apart. On Wednesday, there was a 20,000-strong crowd for the Serbian Cup semifinal matches in Belgrade.

World number one Djokovic said that it was not upto him to decide on the gathering as he was going by what the government has told the public.

"We have different circumstances and measures so it’s very difficult to think of international standards,” he said before the ceremonial opening of his Adria Tour.

Top players such as Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Grigor Dimitrov and Jelena Jankovic were also present at the event.

"You can also criticize us and say this is maybe dangerous but it’s not up to me to make the calls about what is right or wrong for health,” Djokovic said. “We are doing what the Serbian government is telling us and hopefully we soon will get back on tour collectively.

READ: Danielle Collins hits out at Djokovic over US Open concerns

"Of course, lives have been lost and that’s horrible to see, in the region and worldwide. But life goes on, and we as athletes are looking forward to competing.”

Earlier this week, Djokovic said he was thinking of skipping the U.S. Open -- if it is played -- because he described precautions put on players as “extreme” and not “sustainable.”

These included a 14-day quarantine for foreign players; a limit of one coaching staff per competitor at matches; limited ability to move around New York; and mandatory lodging near the tournament site in Queens.

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

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