Novak Djokovic, the world’s No. 1 ranked men’s tennis player, believes he’s the subject of a “witch hunt” after players tested positive for COVID-19 at the Adria Tour tournament he hosted last month.
The event ended up being canceled and both Djokovic and his wife, Jelena, tested positive after the tour. Djokovic took heavy criticism for putting players in that position and holding a tournament at all.
Djokovic: Criticism an ‘agenda,’ ‘witch hunt’
Tennis stars slammed the event in Croatia with Nick Kyrgios calling it a “boneheaded decision” to play the exhibition. It received widespread rebuke as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and the world attempts to halt its spread.
“I can only see criticism lately and much of it is malicious,” Djokovic told Serbia’s Sportski Zurnal on Wednesday, via CBS Sports. “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.”
There were no social distancing protocols and players traveled from all over the world. Videos showed tennis stars at a nightclub days before the first positive test.
The event was canceled after world No. 19 Grigor Dimitrov, No. 33 Borna Coric and ATP pro Viktor Troicki all announced they had tested positive.
Djokovic notes he complied with laws
Novak Djokovic says he’s the subject of an ‘agenda’ and ‘witch hunt’ after the Adria Tour he organized during the pandemic. (Recep Sakar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Djokovic told the paper his “intention was pure” to organize a humanitarian event in the Balkan region.
“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.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) advises social distancing and gives guidance on wearing a mask in public areas.
Djokovic at first refused to take a COVID-19 test, but then changed his tune and announced the positive test on June 23. He and his wife tested negative for COVID-19 last week, 10 days after that. They had no symptoms and self-isolated in Croatia, per a statement.
Will Djokovic be at the US Open?
The ATP postponed events in March due to the spread of the virus. The US Open is still scheduled to take place in New York City beginning Aug. 31 without fans. Djokovic is unsure if he will be there.
“I still haven’t decided whether I will play in the U.S. Open, the upsurge in registered COVID-19 cases in the United Staes and New York in particular are not playing into the event’s hands,” Djokovic said.
New York City is no longer a hot spot for the virus. The number of new cases is about the same over the past two weeks, per the New York Times. Cases are spiking in southern states such as Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Georgia. The larger risk is that players could bring the virus from a place with rising cases to fellow competitors in New York.
More from Yahoo Sports: