Strongly criticized for organizing a tennis tournament in which several players, including himself, caught the Covid-19, Novak Djokovic donated more than 40,000 euros to a Serbian city hit hard by the pandemic, reported on Wednesday several media.
World number 33, donated the money to Novi Pazar in southwestern Serbia to help deal with an increasing number of coronavirus cases, sports channel SportKlub reported TV on its website. The city declared a state of emergency in late June.
After mastering a first wave of the epidemic in early May, Serbia is now reporting a new outbreak, registering more than 200 new cases a day, up from around 50 a month ago.
Believing it was off the hook, the country allowed Djokovic to organize a charity tournament, which started in Belgrade in mid-June, before a series of coronavirus infections forced the organizers to stop it.
In addition to Djokovic, three other tennis players – Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki – who participated in the Adria Tour, as well as Serbian coach Goran Ivanisevic, tested positive for coronavirus. Djokovic’s wife Jelena has also contracted the virus.
The tournament was held in violation of any safety rules in front of several thousand supporters: the players kissed over the net, played basketball and even danced in a nightclub in Belgrade.
Djokovic then said he was “deeply sorry” that the tournament “caused harm”.
Serbia, which has a population of around 7 million, has recorded almost 15,000 cases of coronavirus and around 280 deaths.