Novak Djokovic attempted to clarify his heavily scrutinized letter to Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley in a social media post Tuesday, insisting his “good intentions” were misconstrued.
Following positive COVID-19 tests on three charter flights to Melbourne, 72 players are currently in a hard quarantine period resulting in 14 days of self-isolation in their hotel rooms. Djokovic had suggested easing quarantine restrictions in his initial comments to Tiley and was promptly criticized for his lack of awareness by many in Australia, including Nick Kyrgios and Sam Groth.
Djokovic had reportedly asked for a shortened isolation period and private housing options with tennis courts for those affected.
“My good intentions for my fellow competitors in Melbourne have been misconstrued as being selfish, difficult, and ungrateful,” Djokovic wrote. “This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
“Not every act is taken at its face value and at times when I see the aftermath of things, I do tend to ask myself if I should just sit back and enjoy my benefits instead of paying attention to other people’s struggles. However, I always choose to do something and be of service despite the challenging consequences and misunderstandings.”
Djokovic, who is currently in a more relaxed quarantine in Adelaide ahead of an exhibition event leading into the Australian Open, said his suggestions were compiled from a group chat with other players and that he knew it was unlikely any of them would be granted. He then apologized for how his comments were perceived.
“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,” he wrote. “I am very sorry that it has come to 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.”
Djokovic is the latest player, along with Roberto Bautista Agut and Alize Cornet, to issue an apology for comments related to the quarantine that were perceived as insensitive.
He also came under heavy scrutiny over the summer due to his ill-fated Adria Tour, which failed to follow universally accepted COVID-19 protocols and saw many of its players, including Djokovic, test positive for the coronavirus.
The Australian Open is scheduled to begin Feb. 8, three weeks delayed from its typical start date.