Novak Djokovic says he’s the scapegoat for many after he was heavily criticized this past month for planning a charity tennis tournament in the middle of a pandemic which saw him and several other tennis pros test positive for COVID-19.
Djokovic told a local Serbian media outlet on Wednesday that he felt he was a part of a “witch hunt” and that it goes beyond just criticism.
“I can only see criticism lately and much of it is malicious,” he said, according to a Reuters report. “It’s obviously more than just criticism, it’s like an agenda and a witch hunt are on. Someone has to take the fall, a big name.”
The Serbian tennis star was slammed on social media earlier this month after he and his wife, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki all tested positive after participating in the Adria Tour charity tournament event in Zadar, Croatia, which was canceled before the finale.
No social distancing was enforced at the second or first leg of the tournament as there were no government restrictions at the time. But a spike in cases in Serbia has since prompted the government to reintroduce some restrictive measures, including compulsory wearing of masks and social distancing.
“We complied with all the laws and regulations. But we’ve learned our lessons and some things could have probably been done in a different way,” Djokovic said, defending the way the tournament was carried out.
“My intention was pure, I was whole-heartedly committed to organising a humanitarian event to help players and tennis federations in the (Balkan) region,” he continued
Djokovic has since tested negative after quarantining himself in Serbia, but now he says he’s unsure if he’ll participate in the U.S. Open scheduled for next month.
“I still haven’t decided whether I will play in the U.S. Open, the upsurge in registered COVID-19 cases in the United States and New York in particular are not playing into the event’s hands.”