World No. 1 tennis player Novak Djokovic has tested positive for coronavirus.
Djokovic is the fourth player from the Adria Tour – a tennis exhibiton that took place in Serbia and Croatia over the past two weeks – to have contracted Covid-19 after Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki all tested positive.
Djokovic, who had planned the tour, was not tested in Croatia on Sunday, instead travelling back to Serbia. Upon arrival there it was confirmed he had tested positive for coronavirus, although he is not displaying symptoms.
His wife, Jelena, has also tested positive and they will go into self-isolation for 14 days.
‘The moment we arrived in Belgrade we went to be tested,’ Djokovic said in a statement. ‘My result is positive just as is Jelena’s, while our children’s are negative.
‘Everything we did in the past month, we did with a pure heart and sincere intentions. Our tournament meant to united and share a message of solidarity and compassion throughout the region.
‘We organised the tournament at the moment when the virus has weakened, believing that the conditions for hosting the Tour had been met.
‘Unfortunately, the virus is still present, and it is a new reality that we are still learning to cope and live with.
‘I am extremely sorry for each individual case of infection. I hope that it will not complicate anyone’s health situation and that everyone will be fine.’
The Zadar-based final between Russia’s Andrey Rublev and Djokovic was abandoned after Dimitrov tested positive, with the Bulgarian world No. 19 revealing the news on Instagram.
It was no surprise when others – including Coric, Troicki and members of Djokovic and Dimitrov’s teams – confirmed they had also contracted the virus given the total abandonment of any social distancing during the event.
Players were seen high-fiving, playing contact sports like football and basketball and mingling with fans and ball kids during the two weeks of the Adria Tour.
Indeed, at the end of the Belgrade stop of the tour, the players – including top-10 players Djokovic, Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev – were filmed dancing together topless in a nightclub.
Djokovic has come in for heavy criticism from his colleagues on the ATP Tour.
Nick Kyrgios, the Australian tennis player ranked 40 in the world, described the decision to go ahead with the event in this manner as ‘boneheaded.’
‘Boneheaded decision to go ahead with the ‘exhibition’,’ he wrote on Twitter. ‘Speedy recovery fellas, but that’s what happens when you disregard all protocols. This IS NOT A JOKE.’
British No. 1 Dan Evans branded it as a ‘poor example’, saying: ‘I just think it is a poor example to set. Even if the guidelines were taken away in this country I would still be trying to keep myself out of the way as much as I could from other people. And I just think there has been a total disregard to that.
‘It is very unfortunate that Grigor has it, Coric has it but, you know, if you strip it back, is it a surprise? I think that is the question we should all ask.’
He added when asked about Djokovic’s position as ATP player council president: ‘Put it this way, I don’t think you should be having a players party and dancing all over each other and then, two very good tennis players have tested positive, you should feel some responsibility in this event and how it has transpired.’
Andy Murray, Djokovic’s long-time rival and former world No. 1, admitted it was ‘not a good look’ for the sport.
‘I have always had a good relationship with Novak,’ said Murray. ‘In hindsight with what’s happened there it is not a good look.
‘When you are going through a time like this it’s important any of the top athletes around the world should be showing that we are taking this extremely seriously and knowing that we are using social distancing measures and whatever it is.’
He added, looking ahead to the upcoming return of the tennis tours with stricter measures in place: ‘It’s kind of a lesson for all of us to take – if we weren’t already – to take this extremely seriously, to have as many safety measures in place as possible.’
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