Novak Djokovic: Letter About Australian Open COVID-19 Protocols 'Misconstrued'

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2021

Novak Djokovic of Serbia juggles with his racket during the semifinal match against Dominic Thiem of Austria at the ATP World Finals tennis tournament at the O2 arena in London, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Frank Augstein/Associated Press

Novak Djokovic has clarified comments he made in a letter to Craig Tiley, tournament director of the Australian Open, that received widespread criticism. 

Per D'Arcy Maine of, Djokovic suggested to Tiley an easing of quarantine restrictions after multiple positive COVID-19 tests on three different charter flights to Melbourne resulted in 72 players being put into a 14-day self-quarantine. 

Maine noted Djokovic reportedly "asked for a shortened isolation period and private housing options with tennis courts for those affected."

In a post on Instagram, Djokovic wrote the following to clarify his request: 

"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.

"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."

Speaking to reporters on Monday about the positive COVID-19 tests, Victorian Premier Dan Andrews said "there's no special treatment here."

"The virus doesn't treat you specially, so neither do we," he added. Health and safety protocols in Victoria require a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine period. 

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Djokovic's letter received criticism from several of his fellow players, with Nick Kyrgios calling him a "tool" on Twitter. Former ATP player Sam Groth called the letter a "selfish political move to gain popularity."

The 2021 Australian Open is scheduled to be played from Feb. 8-21. The tournament was supposed to be held from Jan. 18-31 but was briefly delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Djokovic won the Australian Open for the second consecutive year and eighth time overall in 2020.