Novak Djokovic has penned an open letter to the Australian public claiming it ‘couldn’t be farther from the truth’ that his ‘good intentions’ to help out his fellow players in strict lockdown were selfish.
More than 70 of the 1200-string contingent of players, coaches and other staff have been forced into strict 14-day quarantine with no permission to train after positive coronavirus cases were detected on their flights to Australia.
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The World No.1 reportedly wrote to Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley with requests, despite Tiley insisting all players had been made aware of the potential requirement.
Djokovic received heavy backlash for the requests from the Australian public with many making it clear the tennis players shouldn’t be exempt from the rules.
Now, Djokovic has moved to clarify his involvement and why he sought to help out the players quarantining in Melbourne.
"My good intentions for my fellow competitors in Melbourne have been misconstrued as being selfish, difficult and ungrateful. This couldn't be farther from the truth,” he wrote.
"I genuinely care about my fellow players and I also understand very well how the world is run and who gets bigger and better and why.
"I've earned my privileges the hard way and for that reason it is very difficult for me to be a mere onlooker knowing how much every help, gesture and good word mattered to me when I was small and insignificant in the world pecking order.
"Hence I use my position of privilege to be of service as much as I can where and when needed."
Djokovic said his talk with Tiley involved an email exchange to brainstorm ideas to help those in strict quarantine after the furore.
"In our email exchange I used an opportunity to brainstorm about potential improvements that could be made to the quarantine of players in Melbourne that were in full lockdown.
"There were a few suggestions and ideas that I gathered from other players from our chat group and there was no harm intended to try and help.
"I was aware that the chances were low that any of our suggestions would be accepted, just like my request to quarantine with my team in Melbourne instead of Adelaide was denied prior to our travel because of the strict government regulations.”
Djokovic thanks Australian public
Djokovic added he was grateful to be Australia and wanted the public to understand the difficulty of not training ahead of a Grand Slam.
"Therefore, I would like to express my full gratitude to Tennis Australia, the Australian Government and local citizens for being willing to take this risk with us for the love of the game and the multiple opportunities it brings to the economy of the country and its people,” he added.
"We are honoured and we will all do our best to follow the guidelines and protocols put in place. We do hope that we will be able to nurture our bodies and be ready for the mental and physical endurance and strength tests that are ahead of us once the competition starts.
"Things in the media escalated and there was a general impression that the players (including myself) are ungrateful, weak and selfish because of their unpleasant feelings in quarantine. I am very sorry that it has come that because I do know how grateful many are.
"We all came to Australia to compete. Not being able to train and prepare before the tournament starts is really not easy. None of us ever questioned 14 days of quarantine despite what is being said by media outlets."
Despite drawing the ire of the Australian public, Djokovic has gone about his daily quarantine life and even provided to young fans with a beautiful moment they will remember for the rest of their lives.
Djokovic watched and applauded to young fans who had set up outside his apartment and started a game of tennis.
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