Djokovic puts up mil­lion eu­ros to help COVID-19 fight in Ser­bia

Calgary Herald - - CITY + REGION -

BEL­GRADE Ten­nis’s top player, No­vak Djokovic, pledged one mil­lion eu­ros (US$1.12 mil­lion) to help buy ven­ti­la­tors and other med­i­cal equip­ment in his na­tive Ser­bia on Fri­day, join­ing a list of ath­letes in the fight against coro­n­avirus.

The virus, which emerged in China late last year, has brought sporting events around the world to a halt and killed more than 24,000 peo­ple.

Rafa Nadal called on Span­ish ath­letes to help raise $12 mil­lion to help fight the pan­demic, while Roger Fed­erer con­trib­uted $1.04 mil­lion to vul­ner­a­ble fam­i­lies in his na­tive Switzer­land.

“I wish to ex­press my grat­i­tude to all the med­i­cal staff across the world and in my na­tive Ser­bia for help­ing ev­ery­one in­fected by the coro­n­avirus,” Djokovic told Ser­bian me­dia over a video con­fer­ence from Mar­bella, Spain.

“Un­for­tu­nately, more and more peo­ple are get­ting in­fected ev­ery day.

“My wife, Je­lena, and I are putting to­gether a plan how to best do­nate our re­sources to peo­ple in need.

“Our do­na­tion is one mil­lion eu­ros for the pur­chase of ven­ti­la­tors and other med­i­cal equip­ment.”

Ser­bia has re­ported 457 con­firmed cases of coro­n­avirus and seven deaths.

Djokovic was in im­pe­ri­ous form be­fore the pan­demic brought the ten­nis sea­son to a halt with both the men’s ATP Tour and the WTA

Tour, which runs women’s com­pe­ti­tions, sus­pended un­til June 7.

The 32-year-old Serb has won 18 straight matches this sea­son, lift­ing the ATP Cup with Ser­bia be­fore a record-ex­tend­ing eighth Aus­tralian

Open ti­tle in Mel­bourne and then a fifth ti­tle at the Dubai Ten­nis Cham­pi­onships.

With coun­tries go­ing into lock­downs to ar­rest the spread of the virus, Djokovic said he has en­joyed spend­ing time with his fam­ily.

“The sit­u­a­tion is very un­pre­dictable. There is a lot of fear and panic and I un­der­stand that com­pletely be­cause there is so much suf­fer­ing. My fam­ily and I are try­ing to stay as pos­i­tive and high-spir­ited as pos­si­ble in battling this im­poster of a virus,” he said.

CIRO DE LUCA/REUTERS FILES

Ser­bia’s No­vak Djokovic has joined a grow­ing list of pro­fes­sional ath­letes pitch­ing in to fight the coro­n­avirus.

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