March 27, 2020 / 12:23 PM / 4 months ago

Djokovic pledges 1 million euros to help fight coronavirus in Serbia

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Tennis world number one Novak Djokovic pledged one million euros ($1.10 million) to help buy ventilators and other medical equipment in his native Serbia on Friday, joining a list of other athletes in the fight against coronavirus.

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - ATP 500 - Dubai Tennis Championships - Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, Dubai, United Arab Emirates - February 29, 2020 Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning the Final match against Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah/File photo

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 had called on Spanish athletes to help raise 11 million euros ($12.13 million) to help fight the pandemic while Roger Federer contributed one million Swiss Francs ($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 till 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 lengthy lockdowns to arrest the spread of the virus, Djokovic said he had enjoyed spending an extended amount of 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 impostor of a virus,” he said.

($1 = 0.9072 euros)

($1 = 0.9614 Swiss francs)

Writing by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Toby Davis

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