Two players, one coach, one fitness trainer - Covid-19 outbreak at controversial Novak Djokovic event worsens
The outbreak of Covid-19 at Novak Djokovic’s Adria Tour event in the Balkans is becoming more serious still. A second high-profile player – world No 33 Borna Coric – has revealed that he tested positive on Sunday night, while other reports suggest that Grigor Dimitrov’s coach and Novak Djokovic’s fitness trainer did too.
Meanwhile Djokovic’s representatives have confirmed that – as of Monday morning – he has yet to undergo a test. On Sunday night, all the other players and support staff reported for testing to the official event hotel in the Croatian city of Zadar. But Djokovic returned to Belgrade.
According to one Croatian report – which was described as accurate by a member of Djokovic’s team – he “decided not to be tested on the spot, because he does not feel any symptoms, nor anyone from his environment, including the professional staff”.
The whole situation was criticised on Monday morning by Nick Kyrgios:
🤦🏽♂️🤦🏽♂️🤦🏽♂️ Boneheaded decision to go ahead with the ‘exhibition’ speedy recovery fellas, but that’s what happens when you disregard all protocols. This IS NOT A JOKE. https://t.co/SUdxfijkbK
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) June 22, 2020
Noah Rubin, the American who has become an unofficial spokesman for less affluent players, said “It’s just not okay. Reckless and disappointing that they thought tennis deserved the risk.”
The first man to test positive from the Adria Tour was Dimitrov, the world No 19, who revealed the news on Instagram on Sunday evening:
Hi Everyone-I want to reach out and let my fans and friends know that I tested positive back in Monaco for Covid-19. I want to make sure anyone who has been in contact with me during these past days gets tested and takes the necessary precautions. I am so sorry for any harm I might have caused. I am back home now and recovering. Thanks for your support and please stay safe and healthy. GD
A post shared by Grigor Dimitrov (@grigordimitrov) on Jun 21, 2020 at 10:36am PDT
The fact that others have been infected is hardly surprising. Over the two weeks of the Adria Tour, players have routinely been embracing and high-fiving, or playing contact sports such as football or basketball in between their matches.
At the conclusion of the Belgrade leg of the tour, they were filmed dancing together in a nightclub with their shirts off. And with a strong field that also includes Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Marin Cilic, this initial batch of positive tests is likely to have lasting repercussions. Dimitrov and Djokovic were also pictured with a crowd of ball-kids, in an arrangement that made no effort at social distancing.
The Adria Tour was set up by Djokovic as a way of reintroducing tennis to the Balkans. The tournament put out a defensive statement on Sunday night saying that “At all times, we have strictly followed the epidemiological measures in place”. These are very limited in Serbia and Croatia because of the relatively low number of Covid cases that have developed there.
Yet while no rules may have been broken, the devil-may-care attitude of the players – many of whom had travelled large distances to participate – always looked highly suspect, and is now proven to have been simply irresponsible.
The cancellation of Sunday night’s final was announced on court by Djokovic’s coach Goran Ivanisevic, who met with boos from the crowd. Ivanisevic replied “I don’t know why you are booing me. I’m not the one who is positive for Covid-19.”
This sequence of positive tests is the latest PR blow in a controversial lockdown period for Djokovic, who has already expressed unpopular opinions on vaccinations and the small-entourage policy of the upcoming US Open. He also posting a video of a practice session in Spain that broke lockdown protocols.